Challenging Global Security Narrative


Traditionally, peace and human security have been viewed in narrow, negative terms. Peace has been defined as the absence of war or conflict. Security is still being conceived in terms of protection against threats and use of physical force in violation of the sovereign rights of a nation and the self-determination of its people. These narrow, negative conceptions are incomplete and inadequate. They merely describe but do not point to the underlying causes or remedies. Nor do they reflect the positive human condition of harmony and social organization that is the only real and effective deterrent to war and conflict. In their place, we need a conception of peace that is founded on positive values and conditions, rather than the mere absence of violence. We need a broader conception of human security that encompasses the entire spectrum of human needs for survival, growth and development, and not merely the need for physical protection from aggression. We need a conception based on the realization that peace and harmony represent positive conditions or statuses of society, closely related to the overall organization and functioning of the society, not merely the absence of negative disturbances. The prospects for world war have receded. War between nation-states is increasingly infrequent and unlikely, although threats of military action continue. Even civil wars have become a cause for international concern, evoking strong pressure and intervention to ensure they are resolved rapidly. But real threats to peace and security persist and even increase.

These threats are political, economic, social and ecological. The rights of sovereign nations continue to be threatened by the unilateral acts of other states. Authoritarian regimes still deprive huge numbers of people of freedom and fundamental legal and human rights. Even in many socalled democratic countries, the rights of individuals and minorities are in constant jeopardy. The threat of famine and persistent poverty still undermines the security of a few billion people. Over 200 million workers, including more than 80 million youth, are unemployed, leaving many of them with little prospect of a steady job, which is the essential condition for economic security. Global financial instability recently demonstrated its capacity to imperil the livelihoods and security of people all over the world and that danger persists. The unregulated and corrupt actions of multinational corporations’ pervert public policies for private benefit; the illegal use of money power perverts democratic forms of government into oligarchies and plutocracies. Social tensions, intercultural conflict and terrorism are on the rise. And on top of them all is the existential threat to all humanity posed by climate change. A positive and comprehensive concept of peace and human security can only be founded on a wider conception of society and social organization. Society is an indivisible and integrated whole. War, peace and social unrest are not attributes of any part of society. They are characteristics of the society as a whole, expressions of its viability, stability and integrity. An imbalance or disturbance in any one aspect can destabilize the whole. So also, any single factor or combination of factors that strengthen that social foundation or provides a constructive outlet for frustrated or pent up social energies can defuse social tensions and remove the underlying source of discontent from which it rises. Viewed from a social, rather than merely a political or military perspective, the progress of humanity in spreading democracy, rule of law, human rights, economic development, education, medical care and other social welfare measures offers valuable insights into the positive foundations on which lasting peace and security can be achieved. Society is an organization that promotes cooperative interactions and relationships between individuals to enhance the welfare and well-being of all its members. It is an integrated, living organism. The prevailing conception of peace is akin to the negative conception of health as the absence of disease. Disease is narrowly conceived as the breakdown of a component organ or system. Treatment focusing on alleviating the symptoms or on measures to repair a malfunctioning part. By contrast, in traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, health is viewed in wider terms as a property or status of the body as a whole. Health is fostered through measures that strengthen the general organization and harmonious equilibrium of the whole organism. Like the body, society strives to maintain a balance and equilibrium between people and activities. Like the body, all the parts, systems and functions of society are interrelated and integrated with one another. Cooperation, coordination and integration between its constituent elements are as essential for social peace as they are for bodily health. Peace is a function of effective and harmonious social organization. It is fostered by the progressive development and evolution of the whole society. It develops horizontally by expanding the geographic reach and coordination of its different activities. It develops vertically by increasing cooperation and integration between different layers and levels of the social structure. The evolution of society began with tiny units of family, village and tribe which gradually expanded to constitute kingdoms. RECOMMENDATION The subsequent emergence of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic nation-states marked an important advance in human social evolution, because this new model overcame the inherent limits resulting from the partition of humanity into separate groups according to languages, religious, ethnic and cultural background. The modern nation-state created a common space and organization within which diverse demographic and social groups could co-exist, cooperate and intermarry, resulting simultaneously in greater unity and greater diversity. The nation-state is a triumph of cultural diversity over mono-cultural isolationism.

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