Two-day IOS on-line International Conference on “Identification of Principal Foundations for Global Peace

New Delhi: A two-day international conference on “Identification of Principal Foundations for Global Peace” was organised by the Institute of Objective Studies on January 23 and 24, 2021.

The inaugural session began with the recitation of a verse from the Quran by Hafiz Athar Husain Nadwi. 

In his welcome address, the secretary general, IOS Prof. Z.M. Khan, laid emphasis on the contours and foundations on which peace rested. Healthy commitment on the part of those who wanted global peace was essential to attain the goal. 

Referring to the activities of the IOS, he said that its scope was diverse. While it was focusing on deprived and marginalised sections, minorities, especially Muslims, by way of survey and study of their socio-economic status, the other areas included independent, impartial and collective efforts in research.

For research, the institute selected various themes of topical value and asked scholars to submit their papers for approval by the committee set up for the purpose. Recently, the institute conducted a survey on elections and the people’s opinion on them. The IOS had also instituted a scholarship scheme under which scholars engaged in research, were awarded scholarship to complete their research. 

Besides, an Ibn Khaldun lecture series had been started to revisit the rich legacy of Muslims. Two awards, Shah Waliullah Award and IOS Life-time Achievement Award had been instituted to honour scholars every year in recognition of their exceptional contribution to various fields of scholarship. Prof. Khan said the annual calendar of IOS was another notable publication that had become popular among the researchers and students due its value in terms of latest data on a variety of subjects.

In addition, a rich database was available to cater to the needs of researchers. He said that the institute was in search of new paradigms and everyone was invited to join the task. 

Introducing the topic, professor of law, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and the vice chairman, IOS, Prof. M. Afzal Wani, described the ferocity of the World War-I  by saying that about 6 million people died in it. Painting a dim picture of today’s world, he said that about 822 million children went hungry every day. Besides, around 3 million people died every year even today. Social scourge had led to the threat to the institution of family and the rate of the breaking of marriage had gone up to 6 percent. About 150 million children were working as labourers, some of them being employed in hazardous industries. Twenty-two million children were without father and one-third population of the world had no access to potable water. After the World War-II, a new regime emerged with several conventions having been signed by the comity of nations, he remarked. 

Inaugurating the conference, Prof. Dr. Bruce W. Dayton, professor and chair of master of peace and justice leadership, master of diplomacy and international relations and executive director of the Contact Peace-building Institute at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA, held that for peace, the world was at a crossroads. He said that poverty globally increased over the last 22 years. About 70 million people were displaced all over the world. World peace could be possible if constructive law of peace and conflict resolution was enforced. 

He went into the circumstances leading to the creation of the United Nations, an institution of global peace. But a new pathway to world peace had to be found. Explaining the concept of peace, he said that it was important to know what peace was and what existed in schools and masses. Everyone thought of peace and peace research. Many societies might seem to be in peace. But that was not the case. There was a triangle of violence: cultural violence, structural violence and racial violence. 

He also spoke on the method of measuring peace and said that a great deal of work on measuring peace had been done during the last two decades. Referring to global index of peace and indication of peace, he held that it was an imperfect instrument. Once one defined peace, he/she needed to be able to measure it. 

He also talked about conflict, which could be between people, between groups and nations. Conflicts were universal, natural and inevitable. Conflicts could be handled constructively or destructively. He said that whenever one had conflicts, he had a choice like writing a blog, entering the political arena, negotiation and finding an intermediary. 

Dr. Dayton described the UN system as the foundation for global peace. The UN had four principal organs, viz, the Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and the Secretariat. Former Secretary-General of the UN Boutros Boutros-Ghali had said that there were four pillars of an agenda for peace. They were to be exercised by the world body. These were: preventive diplomacy, peace keeping, peacemaking and peace building. Referring to the problem of sovereignty, he said that under state sovereignty, states were in complete control of people and the property within their territory. There had been decrease in wars after the World War-II. But the weakness of the UN system was also significant in certain pockets like Syria and others. He called for adopting the perspective of an optimistic realist for global foundations for peace. Earlier, peace rested with states but now it rested with many organisations, movements and groups. He stressed the need for adopting a cosmopolitan view of global peace.

In her special address, adjunct associated professor, university of Notre, Australia, Dr. Ana Penteado, said that intellectual property rights might be the future issue of disputes. What was missing in the intellectual property rights was the common heritage right like jurisdiction over oceans. She said that the world community should identify means for achieving global peace. In this connection, she quoted Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s efforts and Mahatma Gandhi’s concerns about the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. 

She felt concerned over pollution that was the main contributory factor in the increase of global warming. She opined that international politics should be reshaped; laws reshaped to give more leverage to honesty, respect to mutual treaties and trust. 

All stakeholders needed to work together for strengthening world property rights organisations. Member states needed some guidelines regarding genetical resources. All the treaties should be considered without prejudice. Similarly, database, local genetic resources etc. should be shared for mutual cooperation. International instruments should be integrated to benefit people. There was also a need for a forum for decision-making. She suggested that the IOS might be engaged for working towards global peace. 

In his expert discourse, director, Indian Law Institute, New Delhi, Dr. Manoj K. Sinha, emphasised the need for signing a treaty for the prevention of the production of nuclear weapons to achieve world peace. German philosopher, Immanuel Kant had as early as 1795 said that a republican system of governance was possible if there was respect for human rights, both internally and externally. Today, the world had become a global village due to the advancement of technology.

Comparing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 with Articles 28 and 38 of the Indian Constitution, he said that Article 38 read: “The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of national life.” 

Article 28 stated, “No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of state funds.” He insisted that it was incumbent on the state to safeguard human rights. Peace could be achieved by ensuring social, cultural and economic rights to the people in global context. 

Chapter-1 of the United Nations outlined its purposes and principles which included maintaining international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace. 

The Security Council of the UN had been tasked with maintaining peace and security. He said that since 1990, humanitarian intervention of the UN to stop violation of human rights in several countries was a major factor for peace. He commented that global poverty constituted major threat to peace. Poverty could not be eliminated by any one state, but by joint efforts as well as sustainable development. The nature of conflict had changed and due to internal migration and displacement of population. In Syria and Sudan, lakhs of people had migrated from one state to the other. The grim situation could be gauged from the fact that globally about 272 million people was in search of employment. So far, 43 million people had been displaced globally and 400 million persons were stateless. He said that the displacement of persons was a big issue today and required urgent attention for the restoration of peace and their security.

In her special narration, former rector, International Islamic University, Malaysia, Dr. Dato Zaleha Kamaruddin, spoke on UN Security Council resolution 5 on women, peace and security. She held that peace and security could only be achieved and sustained if all members of society had equal opportunities. Referring to women and armed conflict, she said that the conflict had destructive effects of on women and girls the most. Women and girls bore the brunt of many of the harmful consequences of armed conflicts. Maternal mortality and women’s land rights were some of the pressing issues that required serious attention.

Powerful women must get full participation in peace negotiations. Inclusion of justice and security too were basic indices for women, peace and security. Women should get education, financial inclusion and the use of cellphone. They should also get parliamentary representation. She said that the OIC’s (Organisation of Islamic Conference) plan of action for the advancement of women adopted by second ministerial conference on women’s role in development held in Cairo last November be implemented.

In his words of appreciation, the chairman, IOS, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, welcomed the views expressed by different speakers and said that the power of peace in a globalising world could not be underestimated. It was the idea that ruled the world following which some positive changes were taking place. Oneness of humanity could ensure peace and development in the world. Thus one needed to define what humanity was. As intellectuals, it was the duty of academics to face the challenges confronting humanity, he concluded.

The inaugural session ended with a vote of thanks by Prof. Afzal Wani.

Technical Session-I

The first technical session was presided over by Prof. Z.M. Khan with Dr. Queeny Pradhan Singh, professor of history, university school of law and legal studies and dean, university school of mass communication, GGS, IP university, Delhi, speaking on historical understanding of peace initiatives in inter-war years, (Conflict situations between nations and within nations to determine a course for attaining global peace before, during and after the World War-I). 

She said that inter-war years 1918 and 1938-39, saw the reasons for the outbreak of the First World War. It was a rivalry among European nations, armament race, and secret treaty obligations. The impact of the war was colossal loss of the lives of civilians and the military. Issues that emerged from the churning were world peace, protection of democracy, security and avoidance of future wars and early resolution of conflicts.

Fourteen points of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US president, that were part of Paris peace conference and the treaty of Versailles were the basis of the creation of League of Nations. Peace pacts signed in 1925-39 did bear result as about 25 anti-war organisations came up in England alone. However, peace initiatives of these organisations failed because they had no real influence over people. She concluded by saying that peace was still elusive. 

Prof. Mirza Asmer Beg of the department of political science, Aligarh Muslim University, focused on aspirational emergence and disappointing decline of league of nations: causes for supersession of peace perspectives leading to the horrendous hell of the World War-II. He observed that influenced by Immanuel Kant, Woodrow Wilson brought out points for halting future wars. League of Nations failed because of a race for hegemony between the US and the USSR. All the weaknesses were, however, rectified by the UNO. Today some people masquerading as democratic leaders were dominating the world. He noted that since the countries felt that the League of Nations could not force peace, Hitler exploited the situation. Dominance theory was ruling today’s international politics, he added. 

In his presidential remarks, Prof. Z.M. Khan, said that efforts for peace after the World War-II gained prominence and the theory of realism emerged in political relations. Declonisation and restoration of democracy dominated the anti-war climate. Universities too came up with active ideas of peace. Role of civil society had become more important in today’s context. This was necessary because civil society was suffering more than the armed forces. Currently, the world faced new kind of problems as non-state actors abetted by the state were creating trouble, he added. 

Technical Session-II

The second technical session focused on UN redefining responsibilities of nation-states and global community for contributing to promotion of peace process. The session was chaired by Prof. Dato Dr. Zaleha Kamaruddin. Prof. Sanjay Singh, Director, Sunder Deep College of Law, Ghaziabad was the first speaker who spoke on United Nations peace paradigm of responsibilities for nation-states for attaining durable international cooperation for peace as a commitment to world community.

He said that six organs of the UN were created to check the outbreak of a third world war. All the six specialised organs were playing an important role in their respective areas. He said that every member of the world body had to rise above hypocrisy. A matter of concern was the possession of weapons of mass destruction, (WMD) among the members of the Security Council. Tension among several countries had imperilled international peace and cooperation. There was a need for humanitarian intervention in areas where a large population suffered due to war or internal strife, and norms for non-intervention in the affairs of other countries be laid. In this connection, recommendations of Kofi Annan Committee should be put into practice, he added.

Dr. Asad Malik, associate professor, faculty of law, Jamia Millia Islamia, centered his talk on responsibilities of nation-states for promoting within their jurisdictions, societies with peace, harmony, justice and fair order as envisaged by universal instruments. He said that nation-states demonstrated unity during Covid-19. Countries with robust structures successfully coped with the pandemic and harmony among nations was appreciated. Nation-states owed an obligation to respect human rights and enter into economic cooperation. International instruments, like UN Charter of Human Rights and Preamble to UN Charter spoke of the liability of nations to work towards peace and cooperation.

Several countries, including India, adopted principles enunciated in the UN charter after 1948. He observed that states had an obligation to protect human rights in domestic sphere. Municipal laws could not be used to defeat the purpose of international law. India was in the forefront of respecting international law related to human rights. Communal harmony was the hallmark of a healthy democracy. India had good laws and judicial pronouncements to promote justice and human rights, he added.

Dr. Khalid Wasim Hassan, coordinator, department of political science and governance, Central University, Ganderbal, Kashmir, threw light on effectiveness and relevance of values adopted under the universal declaration of human rights for promotion of global peace with dignity. Presenting his point of view about the topic, he said that lack of collective legitimisation of the League of Nations by states led to its failure to prevent future conflicts. But the mechanism adopted by the states following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gave credence to the protection of human rights.

Imagining a society without human rights enshrined in the UDHR had become impossible. A common understanding of human rights and their protection emerged slowly. Referring to their legal status and universality, he said that from being aspirational, they reached the point of a legal binary. Then there was the ratification of Conventions by the nation-states. He ended by saying that the discourse of human rights was first symptomatic of social and political configuration.

Prof. P. Puneeth, associate professor, School of International Studies, JNU, focused on principal universal foundation for international peace envisaged by international convention on Civil and political rights, 1966, and other multiple UN declarations and conventions really being followed to attain global peace. He said that in 2020, global index of peace fell. Global peace was of two types: negative peace and positive peace. Article 55 of the UN Charter spoke of universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. He observed that human rights could be protected only by the rule of law. Economic and social rights were foundations of global peace. All human rights were universal and all instruments revolved around human rights. He said that focus on strengthening democracy was a must for securing human rights. 

Technical Session-III

Chaired by Prof. M. Afzal Wani, the third technical session focused on universal foundations for peace and their adoption through United Nations resolutions, treaties, declarations and conventions. Prof. Rajpurohit, dean and director, faculty of law, Rajasthan University, and Dr. Abhishek, asstt. professor in the same faculty, in a joint paper spoke on basic universal data for advancement of international and social peace through denouncement of subjugation and authoritarianism under International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966. 

They held that authoritarianism was an unfair exercise of political power with support from armed forces and bureaucracy. Subjugation of the citizenry was the result of authoritarianism, which denied cultural rights to minorities. Subjugation of minorities in some countries was a part of their policy. Denial of education to minorities in India also fell in that category, they said.

Prof. Anuj Kumar Vaksha from USLLS, GGSIP University, explained the prospective relevance of UNSDGs-Goal-6, global peace. Dr. Naresh Vats of the University School of Humanities and Social Sciences, GGSIP University, gave his presentation on prospective relevance of UN SDGs-Goal10: “reduce inequality and women’s empowerment for promotion of global peace”. The last speaker of the session was Batool Zahoor Qazi, lecturer, faculty of Shariah and Law, the Maldives National University, Maldives, touched upon prospective relevance of UN SDGs-Goal 5: “gender equality and women’s empowerment for promotion of global peace”.

January, 24, 2021, Second Day

Technical Session-IV

The fourth technical session centered on the relevance of UN Sustainable Development Goals to peace prospect of their achievement. Prof. M. Afzal Wani chaired the session.

Dr. Nafees Ahmad from South Asian University was the first speaker of the session who spoke on the principal universal foundations for across-the-board just treatment of refugees to attain global peace. He said that peace had many dimensions, ramifications and dynamics. Refugees sought refuge in other geo-political areas away from their roots. Sometimes they were treated as a liability and not asset to the world. They were confronted and not allowed to be a part of development. Refugee crisis had been exacerbated as they were persecuted and denied rights. Refugees could not got refuge every time as was evident from the Chechen, Rohingya and Congo refugees. He said that the New York declaration decolonised those who were displaced, or forcibly displaced. 

The number of refugees today stood at 17 million. In an environment in which peace became a mirage, refugees were the voices of peace. He concluded by saying that the language of human rights provided the vocabulary of peace.

While Dr. Iqbal Ahmad of National Law University, Delhi, focused on the need for the effectiveness of prosecutional response to human trafficking for promotion of social and global calm, Dr. Vandana Singh, University School of Law and Legal Studies, GGS IP University, Delhi, spoke on economy and world peace. Dr. Parikshet Sirohi from the faculty of law, Delhi University, touched upon prospective relevance of UN sustainable Development Goal about ending poverty in all its forms for attaining global peace.

He was followed by Dr Zubair Ahmad Khan of the University School of Law and Legal Studies, GGSIP University, who presented his paper on protection of biological diversity and forests to sustain a peaceful world. The last speaker of the session was Rubina Sultana, research scholar, department of philosophy, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, who spoke on the participation of women to secure global peace: an analysis of the role of sustainable development goals. 

Valedictory Session

The valedictory session was presided over by Prof. Z.M. Khan. Prof. Afzal Wani presented a brief on the proceedings of the conference. In his special address, Attorney-at-Law and President’s Counsel, Sri Lanka, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, explained the importance of human rights in international context. He said that human rights were a part of religious and cultural heritage. These were recognised in Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic scriptures. These were mentioned in Hindu Shastras, Hebrew religious texts and the Christian Bible. UN Charter began with the words like, “We the people, We the states…”

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by delegates with different legal backgrounds. Several treaties were signed in this connection and human rights were sought to be respected everywhere. It was based on universality vs. cultural relativism as the former was not imperialism. He observed that human rights were not imposed but their violation threatened global peace. Then there was an international dimension of human rights violation as a result of which the number of refugees in Syria and Myanmar had reached 6 million. 

Besides, there were several thousand Tamil refugees in India. He held that ethnic conflicts were also a major threat to global peace as they arose out of the denial of rights to the numerically smaller communities. While emphasising the need for a regional mechanism to address the issue, he said that sovereignty could not be a defence against violations of human rights. 

In his valedictory address, Ford Foundation, USA, scholar, Dr. Azim A Khan Sherwani, held that the US was the first country to recognise healthcare. The country spent most on healthcare. He said that capitalism being practised in the Scandinavian countries was a model. The world economy put together stood at around 90 trillion dollars today but the goal of sustainability could not be achieved without global peace. He pleaded for finding a common ground where all were engaged to achieve this goal. Three words–justice, peace and sustainability–should harmonise the world. Technologies and artificial intelligence should be used to promote these ideas. He called for having a platform to support peace.

In his presidential remarks, Prof. Z.M. Khan reiterated IOS commitment to peace and harmony as it had been doing this for a long time. He said that the violence was taking new forms and should be looked in that perspective. Of late, this had become a tool to turn public opinion. Civilians were victims of violence of every sort. He urged the civil society to take up the issue and come up with a solution. International community was gradually realising the need for peace. He concluded by calling upon all religions to come forward to ensure that peace in the world became a reality. 

The conference ended with a vote of thanks extended by the assistant secretary general of the IOS, Prof. Hasina Hashia.

The occasion was also marked by unanimous adoption of a 9–point resolution which read:

  1. Pursuant to loss and devastation of over a 100 million lives in the First and Second World Wars, causing emergence of inane parochial leanings of self-aggrandisement, unimaginable damage to natural earnestness of human desire to live in the world with variety and harmony, the human community is duty bound to repeatedly look into the reasons for intra and inter-state conflicts causing such horrendous tragedies in the form of merciless killings of military and civilian people, large-scale rape and murder of women, butchery of children, destruction of environment, creation of acrimony and hatred, economic imbalances, political supremacies, undermining of processes of justice and genocide coupled with unconscionable destruction of fauna and flora resulting in smacking of mother nature and visible environment.
  2. Harnessing false instincts and shallow, whimsical aspirations lead with the motivated arousing of frivolous political, social and economic conflicts pushing human groups to extremes and positions of extermination must be wisely managed through cooperation and coordination with the human spirit of survival of all, rather than political gimmicks and malice, following a cosmopolitan worldview with proper identification of principal foundations for global peace escaping unreal suasions of genetic differences.
  3. Institutional mechanisms developed by the global community through United Nations after the world wars, national independent judicial systems, promotional initiatives through welfare agencies, availing of opportunities for redress of grievance under national and international systems should be conscientiously respected to build peace and promote harmony for better future of humanity at home and abroad for all containing the contemporary violence to all individual and group members of humanity with transparent, effective and timely action.
  4. Culture of ease of business and employment, reassertion and self-determination, resettlement and relocation, intellectual endeavours and social aspirational reorientations should be facilitated with enormously required international understanding as in case of India envisaged by Article 51 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
  5. Development of societies with social peace and spirit of community service as a haulmark, following standards stated in international instruments like Declaration on the Essentials of Peace, 1949 and Declaration on the Preparation of Societies for Life in Peace, 1978, should be ensured addressing needs of the people which recognise the preferment and paramount position of human dignity and other human rights as important essentials of peace, to enable people to live in peace.
  6. Appreciating oneness of humanity, the UN and all Nation States should overtly stand for values of human rights, promotion of human dignity, equality and mutual respect eliminating the evil torturous situations faced by the world in the form of child exploitation, human trafficking, rape of women, racial forms of discrimination, statelessness, starvation, illiteracy, bonded labour, exploitative commercial engagements and any other form of inhuman practices.
  7. Sufficient literacy and campaigning by international agencies and Nation States should be carried out across the globe against extremism, terrorism, hate, exclusion by any public functionary or private individual in any context, more by dispelling reactionaries and promotion of right thinking and expression.
  8. The literature in world cultures should be presented in its true peace context and accommodative contours.
  9. IOS should take initiatives with UN agencies and Nation States to promote academic engagements with studies in peace and harmony, within societies and internationally.

The resolutions were read out by Prof. Afzal Wani. 


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