Uploaded on January 25, 2024
The Case for A Better World
DR. MOHAMMAD MANZOOR ALAM argues the case for upholding the rule of law, resolving conflicts peacefully and strengthening respect for human rights.
At a time when the world is witnessing conflicts and wars on multiple continents, it becomes incumbent upon us to argue the case for peaceful conflict resolution, restraining the use of force, upholding the rule of law and inculcating respect for human rights.
The situation also calls for empowering the United Nations, and creating other global negotiating forums, so that conflicts and wars could be averted more efficiently, and cooperation on challenges such as Covid-19-like pandemics, migration and climate change could be fostered more effectively.
The United Nations and other forums should encourage developed or advanced countries to share responsibility to help developing countries as well as poor nations out of economic woes. The international community has a moral responsibility to help the world’s poorest countries so that they could combat extreme poverty, hunger, lack of basic education, malnutrition, etc.
We as global citizens have also a role to play as far as building peace and averting wars are concerned. With the same end in view, we at the IOS organised a two-day international conference on “War, Politics and Peace in the Globalized World” on December 16–17 last year. The conference deliberated on relevant issues and came up with some observations for the consideration of the world community. In the resolutions we said “the United Nations should take the conflicts between nations and non-international conflicts seriously to prevent bloodshed in the world. Concepts of justice for all should be made part of the curriculum in educational institutions and media discussions to change the mindset for achieving better for humanity.” We also urged the governments and civil society organisations to carry out welfare measures on a larger scale for the millions of people who have been displaced by wars.
People with a sense of moral responsibility should join national and international forums to work towards the upliftment of humanity at large. Even a handful of resourceful people with a sense of moral responsibility can ease the sufferings of thousands and thousands of people.
A section of the concerned citizens of India has launched an initiative called “Save the Constitution and Build the Nation” in order to strengthen pluralism, diversity, equality, justice and tolerance. This initiative should be appreciated by the citizens of India in general and the intelligentsia in particular.
The rise of illiberal democracies in the world should also be a matter of concern for the concerned citizens who value the idea of a democratic and free society where everybody has the right to live with dignity and everybody is equal before the law. The Economist in its “The World Ahead 2024” has highlighted a few themes to watch in the coming year. One of the them focuses on the rise of illiberal democracies. It notes that more voters than ever before will take part in elections across the globe. For the first time in the history of humankind more than 70 elections will be conducted this year in countries with around 4.2bn inhabitants, which is over half of the world population. However, the magazine observes, “there is not necessarily more democracy: many elections will be neither free nor fair.”
The rise of illiberal democracies, which have a tendency to hide their antidemocratic practices behind democratic institutions and procedures, is a dangerous trend. Thus, every concerned citizen of a democratic country should watch out for such trends, and make every effort to strengthen constitutional democracy, wherein constitutional limits are placed on the government’s powers, and individual rights and freedoms are protected.
We often hear the proverb that “the child is father of the man,” which simply means that childhood experiences shape adult life. Therefore, I believe that if children are inculcated with the ideas of democracy and dialogue, they will, in future, become champions of diversity, equality and inclusion.
This reminds me of Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2024. Tirana Hassan, the Executive Director at Human Rights Watch, in the preface to the organisation’s World Report 2024, under the title “The Human Rights System is Under Threat: A Call to Action,” says human rights crises can’t be solved by governments acting alone as the drivers of these crises and the consequences thereof often transcend borders. Ms. Hassan observes that understanding and responding to these threats need to be rooted in universal principles of international human rights and the rule of law.
The Executive Director at Human Rights Watch has put the spotlight on transactional diplomacy also in which “governments disregard the benefits of long-term relationships built on human rights principles to achieve immediate, short-term trade or security gains”. She adds “When governments pick and choose which obligations to enforce, they perpetuate injustice not only in the present but in the future for those whose rights have been sacrificed—and can embolden abusive governments to extend the reach of their repression. The moral foundation of international human rights demands consistency and steadfastness.”
As concerned citizens we should speak out against injustice and transactional diplomacy. It’s also time for everyone who cares about constitutional democracy, rule of law and human rights to stand up and be counted. In 2024, let’s hope and pray for a peaceful, prosperous and just world.
(The writer is Chairman, Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi)