Peace Day: ‘Turning refugees away will only harm the West’

Published: September 21, 2017 - 14:50 Updated: September 21, 2017 - 14:51

As migration of people from conflict-ridden areas continues in several parts of the world and is met with racism and xenophobia in the West, the world must attempt to address global inequality and poverty without generating more violence

Jyotika Teckchandani Delhi

The International Day of Peace is celebrated every year on September 21. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this day will be devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people. Since 1981, every year we celebrate this day to rise above all differences and to contribute to building a culture of peace.

The UN theme for International Day of Peace 2017 is: “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, and Dignity for All.”

This year, the International Day of Peace will focus on engaging and mobilising people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants. With the recognition of this day as one when the world will focus on strengthening the ideals of harmony, the international community has duly acknowledged the ever-increasing violence in this modern world.

The humanity today is faced with a paradox—on the one hand, is the remarkable achievement in the field of science and technology, knowledge production, and development of material resource, and on the other hand, there are ever-growing social, economic and political inequalities marked by high level of violence against many communities and societies. This form of global development has produced a cycle of migration and movement of refugees from less developed part of the world to more developed parts of the world, such as Europe, USA, Australia etc, which are called countries of mature democracies.

This global movement of people from the south to north is being met with racism and ultra-nationalistic and xenophobic tendencies, which in turn poses a threat to these mature democracies in the west. It has become abundantly clear that a club of mature democracies, backed by a high degree of economic prosperity and affluence, cannot survive under the condition of global mass poverty and inequality.

Therefore, the challenge lies in addressing this global inequality and poverty without generating more violence. The UN designation of September 21 signifies a serious step in this direction. However, it does not have any blueprint to fight the menace of poverty and inequality, which otherwise are at the root of widespread global violence and ethnic and religious conflict. While nations are trying to address this question through various policies and programmes, they are not focusing adequately on utilising the major voices of peace for this purpose. It is here that we need to recall the seminal contribution of Mahatma Gandhi towards promoting global peace, non-violence, and justice by addressing the concrete issues of inequality, discrimination, and poverty.

It is high time that the global leaders meet to address the UN General Assembly this week in order to reflect on the global issues of governance and poverty reduction. And they also must take into consideration the approaches of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda and many such voices of peace and development.

The author is an assistant professor at Amity University in Noida.