by Charles Mercieca, Ph.D., President
International Association of Educators for World Peace
NGO, United Nations (ECOSOC), UNDPI, UNICEF, UNCED & UNESCO
Following World War II, people of all nations felt the dire need to unite as to make war completely obsolete or a remote possibility. Therefore, a number of nations met in San Francisco in 1945 in an effort to achieve this objective. This meeting gave birth to the United Nations whose major goals may be outline as follows: reduction of war threats, provision of humanitarian assistance, creation of better environment, and building a safer world. If these objectives were to materialize the world would go through a long period of peace.
Reduction of War Threats
We may enumerate the possible steps that could be taken to reduce war threats as follows: disarmament and arms control, abolition of nuclear weapons and landmines, changing product of the weapons industry, and demilitarization of space.
1. Disarmament and Arms Control: We have learned from a recorded history of civilization of 6,000 years that when nations prepare for war they all end up waging wars. At the same time, we have observed that when nations use their human resources merely for humanitarian purposes, they all end up living in peace. This tangible evidence should lead us to realize that arms control, accompanied by an international program of disarmament, would certainly reduce war threats considerably.
2. Abolition of Nuclear Weapons and Landmines: The usage of nuclear weapons over Japan proved that everyone would be a loser. The fall out that comes from these devastating weapons will eventually reach the nation that uses them to the detriment of its own people. Besides, the toxic wastes emitted from the factories where such weapons are made have cause cancer to tens of thousands amounting to millions. The plantation of millions of landmines in Africa and other global areas have killed and/or maimed millions of people.
3. Changing Product of Weapons Industry: When Mikhail Gorbachev became President of the former Soviet Union he proposed a program of international disarmament and arms control. He underlined the importance for the weapons industry to change its product by making tractors for farmers instead of tanks for soldiers, by manufacturing prefabricated homes for the homeless instead of bombs and by spending the bulk of money on people’s health and education instead of putting it on weapons of destruction.
4. Demilitarization of Space: Both US President Ronald Reagan and US President George W. Bush came with the idea of the militarization of space to keep the world more secure! What would make the people more secure: if they were to have thousands of weapons orbiting over their own houses or if they were to have no weapons at all orbiting over them? One ounce of common sense would make us realize the importance of the demilitarization of space.
Provision of Humanitarian Assistance
1. Elimination of World Hunger and Poverty: It is very shameful that in a world of plenty we have countless of millions of people starving to death and living in abject poverty. Many have no shelter where they could protect themselves from the heat and the cold. It is outrageous to say the least to see governments of affluent nations providing underdeveloped nations with military aid consisting of weapons instead of with medical aid consisting of medicine. War seems to have become a lucrative business that needs to be obliterated.
2. Adequate Health Care for All People: We learn from a recorded history of 6,000 years that the strength of a nation is not measured by its military power but by the health and education of its people. A brief glance at the nations of the world will convince us that the countries that put top priority in expenditure on the health care and education of the people rather than on weapons and all kinds of military equipment are more stable and people feel more secure. Among such countries we find Canada, New Zealand and Scandinavia among others.
3. Effective Use of Expertise by NGOs: The United Nations has been blessed by hundreds of Non Governmental Organizations whose objective is to help strengthen the United Nations by implementing its peaceful goals. To this end, the United Nations should rely more and more on the advice of such dedicated institutions that have emerged as the only hope to save the United Nations from self-destruction, following the example of the League of Nations.
4. Providing Homes for the Homeless: Millions of people around the world sleep in the street like strayed animals. Yet, the affluent nations are doing hardly anything to provide such unfortunate people with a shelter. We are all familiar with the traditional saying: To err is human but to persist in error is diabolical. Such nations should view it as criminal to provide poor nations with weapons rather than with housing facilities. The traffic of weapons should stop abruptly.
Creation of Better Environment
1. Environmental Protection from Pollution: The irony lies here: Those in government claim to manufacture weapons to keep the nation secure. The toxic wastes emitted from such death machine factories in the United States alone is incurring cancer in two millions Americans every year most of whom die shortly afterwards. The best way to protect the nation’s people is by providing them with air and water that are totally free from any kind of pollution. This is the first sacrosanct duty of every government.
2. Changing Product of Weapons Industry: As already seen, the weapons industry is faced with an alternative: either to close down and get out of its lethal business or simply to remain in business but changing its product. Every government is morally obligated to present this dilemma to every weapons industry within its territory. It seems that an industry would rather survive with a different product than fold up. The numerous beneficial products that could be offered to people everywhere are too long to enumerate.
3. Beautification of Residential Areas: There are many cities in the world that are so beautifully decorated that they seem to be literally a paradise on earth. Governments could spend money on planting trees and bushes of every kind in residential areas. They could build parks for adults and playgrounds for children. Trees serve to give us oxygen, which is indispensable for our life, while they take nitrogen which is not healthy at all for our lungs in particular.
4. Replacement of Military Bases: There are numerous military bases across the world. Such military bases need to be replaced by humanitarian agencies that would provide people not with elements of wars but with opportunities to procure medical attention to people and educational material for their children. If we were to have a strong United Nations that would implement its Universal Declaration of Human Rights peacefully, the need for military bases would cease to exist.
Building a Safer Future
1. Constructive Development of Human Resources: Several nations in North America, Europe and Asia use the human resources for negative and destructive purposes. They use the human brain not to procure remedies for cancer, epilepsy, leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and heart ailments. They use the human brain to design more weapons of mass destruction like the so called smart bombs and the shock-and-awe weapons that have massacred thousands of innocent people brutally in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
2. Safeguard of Human Rights: The UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights is an excellent document. However, there is hardly a nation that observes its content fully. For example, human beings have a sacrosanct right to visit anywhere in the world where they please. Yet, some governments, including the USA, prevent their citizens from traveling into certain countries on mere political grounds. Also, people have a right for free health care from birth to death, a right that has been violated by several nations including the USA.
3. Promotion of World Peace through Education: The Unesco preamble starts as follows: Since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. Such defenses of peace can be constructed only through the development of peace education and programs. Schools should be provided with the opportunity to offer such programs at all levels of education. This would serve as the foundation of an everlasting peace.
4. Remedies to Sources of Terrorism: Like Pope John Paul II said repeatedly to President George W. Bush, unless we go straight to the sources that are causing terrorism, this problem would not be solved. By going after terrorists to get them and kill them would serve to no avail in the long range. Potential terrorists have no background of any mischief. Colonialists and capitalists have exploited the economic resources of numerous countries for a long time leaving millions of natives suffering from lack of shelter and nutrition brutally.
In spite of its deficiencies, the United Nations remains the best instrument we have in the world to solve problems properly on a long range base. This international body of nations needs to be strengthened in the best interest of all people across every continent without exception. The sixteen United Nations Goals for the New Millennium, as they have been outlined, cannot be taken lightly. Our job is to find ways to implement them the sooner the better.