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By E. Scott Ryan, Ph.D.
There’s talk in Toronto about a UN University for Peace becoming a reality in the near future. At the end of the Second World War, the world vowed Never Again to genocide, crimes against humanity and unprovoked war…all of which are all too Ever Again. Since the Never Again declaration there have been more than 90 wars with more deaths than both World Wars combined. Canada has given refuge to many fleeing those wars and they are human resources that bring peace talk down from the university suites to the war torn streets.
This article presents 14 causes of conflict that have been identified by my university friend and peace colleague, former Vice President of the World Court, Judge Weeramantry. I suggest the UN University for Peace start with his points but not end with them. They are important points but more needs to be pointed to and pointed out by those in our midst who have the most important point of all: the victim. These victims should be brought into the UN University for Peace since they know the Ever Again and the need for a Never Again better than anyone.
Should you be one of those victims with a point to make, write to me at Toronto Waterfront Magazine and we will do our best to help you help the cause of peace. We’ll start with Judge Weeramantry’s points of conflict as follows with an invitation to follow up on them.
1. Attitudes of positivism and legalism which have tended to insulate law, lawyers and judiciaries from social and economic realities
2. Inadequate translation into practical terms of the various human rights and freedoms which are universally accepted by the international community
3. Inadequate insertion into international law of a multicultural humanism which gives due consideration to the cultural experience of all peoples and transcends monocultural values
4. The perpetuation, under cover of legality and legalism, of discrimination of various sorts
5. Widely prevalent cross-cultural ignorance and lack of understanding resulting in a polarization of cultures
6. Pursuit of science and technology with total absence of or insufficient regard for the ethical considerations and perspectives attendant on such work
7. Neglect of concepts of trusteeship of earth’s resources, intergenerational equity and sustainable development
8. The growth of international corporate power without attendant concepts of responsibilities
9. Rapidly expanding economic and power disparities between the developed and the developing worlds
10. Blind spots in international, domestic and human rights law which enable the armaments industry to profit from fostering such conflicts and keeping them alive
11. Proliferation and improvement of weapons of mass destruction
12. Economic globalization without due regard to its human and social impact
13. Industries associated with international conflict such as narcotics, money laundering, and trade in instruments and systems of torture
14. Chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction.