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Our Common Enemies & Our Best Friends

ARTICLE | | BY Ivo Šlaus, Heitor Gurgulino de Souza, Winston P. Nagan, Garry Jacobs


Ivo Šlaus
Heitor Gurgulino de Souza
Winston P. Nagan
Garry Jacobs

The re-emergence of dangerous East-West tensions, atrocities in the Middle East, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), bloodshed in Ukraine, traumas inflicted on many chil­dren by war and violence, massive war in Europe becoming imaginable for the first time since the end of the Cold War, violation of current international laws, unfulfilled expectations, missed opportunities offered by the end of the Cold War and in the Middle East, as well as attempts to “solve” them using military threats and economic sanctions, are all manifestations of an old paradigm that perpetuates the very problems it promises to resolve and is incapable of addressing the pressing challenges confronting humanity today.

We need a new paradigm – a human-centered paradigm for global human security based on human dignity, peace and sustainable development, truly democratic governance and dominance of raison d’humanité.

The foundation for human security lies in building a truly inclusive global cooperative security system. The rationale for a cooperative security system is that the more countries are included, the fewer the potential threats that can come from outside and the lower the level of national resources needed to prepare for an increasingly unlikely
eventuality. Conversely, nations that are excluded from such a system perceive the threats to their own security heightened by the growing strength of an exclusive club. The end of the Cold War was a missed opportunity to move from a world divided by competing security systems to one that was truly inclusive. Haunted by painful memories of the Cold War, two years ago NATO officials scoffed at the idea of including Russia within NATO. Today, the consequences of that exclusion are evident.

We need immediate cessation of all hostilities and violence, enforced by strong UN action preventing violation of peace, human security and dignity, followed by urgent concrete steps leading to joint economic, ecological, energy and other projects to enlarge and strength­­en cooperation between Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asian associations.

The contemporary world has truly dangerous enemies: destruction of natural, human and social capital - destruction of trust, extremely high unemployment and income inequality - economic and political, and above all, moral crises. Building peace and prosperity is a long slow process and considerable success has already been achieved. But it only takes seconds to destroy that peace. Let us not forget the words of President D.D. Eisenhower, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” The old approach, “they” and “us”, does not solve anything.

It is we human beings, our institutions, sovereign states, the UN system, international organizations, academies and universities who should be collectively establishing a new paradigm. The founding fathers of the World Academy of Art and Science (as well as of the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Pugwash Movement) Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell concluded their famous Manifesto writing, “Remember your humanity and forget the rest!” The alternative is sleepwalking into war and the destruction of humankind. As another of our founding fathers (and that of Pugwash) Sir Joseph Rotblat said, not only is a war-free world desirable, it is now necessary, if humankind is to survive. We have to change the mindset that erroneously believes in the doctrine of seeking security for oneself by actions which spell insecurity for others. We know that countries with large stocks of weapons, particularly weapons of mass destruction, have low rankings on the Global Peace Index. We must replace the old dictum “if you wish peace, prepare for war” by a new one that is essential for the Third Millennium, “if you wish peace, prepare for peace by developing and strengthening natural, social and human capital - by developing a new paradigm”.

The World Academy of Art and Science calls upon all people, specifically those whose governments and political elites have brought them in conflict – to make their voices heard in the cause of peace and security.

About the Author(s)

Ivo Šlaus

Honorary President, World Academy of Art & Science; Member, Club of Rome, European Leadership Network and Pugwash Council; Dean, Dag Hammarskjold University College for International Relations & Diplomacy, Zagreb.

Heitor Gurgulino de Souza

Hon. President, World Academy of Art & Science; Vice President, Club of Rome; Secretary General, The International Association of University Presidents, Brazil.

Winston P. Nagan

Former Chairman, Board of Trustees, World Academy of Art & Science; Emeritus Professor, Institute for Human Rights, Peace and Development, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl, USA

Garry Jacobs

President & Chief Executive Officer, World Academy of Art & Science; CEO & Chairman of Board of Directors, World University Consortium; International Fellow, Club of Rome; President, The Mother’s Service Society, Pondicherry, India.