The end of May saw the long-anticipated arrival of the UN’s high level report into life post the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). For this important project, Ban Ki-Moon enlisted ‘eminent persons’, the likes of Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Sirleaf of Liberia and Cameron of the UK. Their task was to pool their collective energy and foresight to provide us with a blueprint for where we should aim to be by 2030.
‘Peace’, and all that goes with that most powerful of goals, has been placed in its rightful position as a cornerstone of the agenda for developing our global society. The report vociferously backed the concepts of peace-building, in order to afford the “fundamental human entitlements” of freedom from conflict and access to justice and legitimate governance. One of the shortfalls of the MDG’s, according to Graça Machel, who was involved in drafting the report, was they “failed to address the way conflict and insecurity undermine efforts to improve health, education and prosperity”. This was proven by Machel’s revelation that “no conflict-affected low-income country has achieved a single MDG”.
The timing of this positive support for peace as a key player in the agenda, as opposed to a utopian ideal, could not have been better. Outrageous crimes against humanity, most alarmingly against women and children, being carried out by both sides in Syria including now the use of chemical weapons, should be alerting the global community that the UN’s mandate to promote international peace and security needs to be strengthened at every conceivable level.
Economic growth is and should be a key objective of the international community and a driver of development but it will not solve many of the issues facing our society today. Of course, livelihoods improve as economies grow, but so many areas of our society are fundamentally broken, we need to stop expanding for growths’ sake and get serious about growing sustainably and equitably as one community. We must, over the next 15 years, focus our efforts on peace building, on open dialogue and frank discussions about human security. We must concentrate on ethnic minorities, food security, corruption, proliferation, energy resources, trafficking, to name a few of the varied and complex issues which need our complete attention.
The report although it has faults, is a strong start. The authors call for “a fundamental shift”. They want to “recognize peace and good governance as a core element of wellbeing, not an optional extra”. Today, it is a folder full of targets and ideas with the real work yet to start. Implementation and continued enthusiasm that there is a better way of dealing with our differences, will be the real test. We need to merge our goals to strive for peaceful development. There will never be a time when our ideals and cultures are the same, heaven forbid that would ever be the case. This however, does not rid us of the responsibility to ensure that every human being, at the very least, lives in safety. To finish with a line from the report,
Development is impossible without peace, just as peace is impossible without development.