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Integrated Approach to Peace & Human Security in the 21st Century*

ARTICLE | | BY Garry Jacobs


Garry Jacobs

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Humanity has made remarkable progress during the past two centuries in advancing peace, democracy, human rights, economic development and social equality. The evolution of human relations has progressed far from the time when physical violence, war and conquest were the predominant form of international relations. Diplomacy has evolved from political negotiations at the conference table to mutually beneficial economic exchange and creative cultural integration. But the ideal of peace and human security for all human beings remains elusive, distant and utopian. Violence and insecurity persist and social harmony is threatened by the competition for political supremacy, markets, jobs and scarce resources. Thousands of nuclear weapons remain armed and on alert. Existential ecological threats increase daily. The roots of war and violence remain intact, even if their most horrendous expressions have receded from view. The permanent abolition of war and achievement of human security for all cannot be attained by narrowly conceived political alliances or collective security agreements. The negative concept of peace as the absence of war needs to be replaced by a positive conception of peace as the essential condition for the fullest development of human potential. The narrow concept of security in military and political terms needs to be replaced by an inclusive conception that views security as an emergent property of effective and harmonious social organization founded on the ultimate value of the human being. Peace and security are fundamental attributes of society as a whole. They can only be achieved by a comprehensive, integrated approach that addresses the roots of violence and disharmony in all forms—political, military, economic, social, cultural and ecological. This will require radical democratization of international institutions, establishment of an effective global legal process, abandonment of outmoded conceptions of national sovereignty, regulation of the global casino, recognition of the fundamental right to employment and economic security, and a realization of the essential role that cultural diversity plays in the evolution of the human race. New theory is needed to unify the disparate fields of social science by development of a transdisciplinary, human-centered perspective of society and social evolution. Formulation of a unifying social theory requires a radical shift from reductionist analytic thinking and mechanistic systems thinking to a more organic, integrated form of thinking that views society as a living organism and regards peace and security as emergent properties of harmonious social organization. These objectives can be significantly advanced by establishment of a new type of international center for human security dedicated to combining new thinking on these issues with practical political initiatives for their implementation.

1. Missed Opportunities

The history of the 20th century is a record of unprecedented challenges, remarkable achievements and missed opportunities. The world community missed a unique opportunity at the end of WWII to abolish war between nation-states. After centuries of military confrontation under the rubric ‘balance of power’ culminated in two world wars, in 1945 representatives of 51 countries founded the United Nations as a global political assembly embodying the principles of peace, cooperative security, democracy, and universal human rights. Indian independence in 1947 was followed by the collapse of colonial empires around the world and independence for dozens of other countries. The post-war period became one of unprecedented prosperity. Europe, which had been the epicenter and motor for global conflict for centuries, was transformed into a model of peaceful political, economic and social relationships and collaboration. Peace was cemented by the emergence of European Economic Community and NATO, forging an unprecedented economic and military alliance that effectively ended the threat of warfare between its member countries.

“The rapid globalization of economy in the absence of effective international institutions converted international nancial markets into a global casino and enabled multinationals to operate increasingly free of regulatory constraints.”

But the world community utterly failed to capitalize on the political opportunity envisioned by the founders of the UN and made possible by the positive post-war atmosphere. Instead, the new institution quickly degenerated into a forum for political confrontation between competing global military alliances. Instead of global disarmament, international relationships quickly degenerated into intensive military and political competition between two opposing military blocs. The peace of 1945 was followed by 45 years of nuclear confrontation. World war on the battlefield was replaced by Cold War tensions and proxy-wars, a frantic arms race that produced 70,000 nuclear weapons, and the constant imminent threat of total mutually assured destruction (MAD). Deeply concerned by the rising danger resulting from post-war political and military developments, the World Academy of Art & Science was established in 1960 by eminent scientists and intellectuals committed to cooperative international efforts to address pressing global problems. Its founders included Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Bertrand Russell, Joseph Rotblat and many others deeply concerned about the growing threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the fast-deteriorating atmosphere of political confrontation.

In 1990 humanity missed another unprecedented opportunity. The end of the Cold War, the decline of communism, and breakup of the Soviet Union created the possibility of permanently eradicating nuclear weapons and establishing a truly inclusive, cooperative security system that could abolish the threat of future international conflicts. Initial progress was achieved on several fronts. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the spread of democracy and human rights in Eastern Europe, the dissolution of the forced union of Soviet Republics, the breakup of the Warsaw Pact and expansion of NATO, and the seventy percent reduction in the total number of nuclear weapons were dramatic achievements. The founding of WTO ushered in a new era of global trade. The founding and rapid expansion of the European Union solidified cooperative relations in Europe. The Internet evolved into the first truly global social network, promoting transnational and cross cultural exchanges between hundreds of millions of human beings from all over the world.

But the initial euphoria that accompanied the end of the Cold War soon dissipated and the positive momentum reversed. Instead of progressive reduction of nuclear stockpiles leading to complete abolition as mandated by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, production and possession of nuclear weapons spread to four more nations and prompted other countries to consider acquiring them. Space weaponry and cyber warfare gradually gained legitimacy. The expansion of NATO stopped far short of transforming it into a truly global cooperative security system, failing to take into account the legitimate security concerns of Russia and other regions. The peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union was interpreted by many as the total collapse of Russian power, leading eventually to an assertion of unilateral American power in Afghanistan and Iraq. The fall of communism in Eastern Europe was misinterpreted as a victory for extreme neoliberalism, breeding arrogance in international affairs, promoting the wholesale adoption of flawed economic doctrines and breeding oligarchy in former communist countries, while dismantling decades of economic and social progress in the West. The field of global confrontation shifted from war and politics to intense economic competition. The rapid globalization of economy in the absence of effective international institutions converted international financial markets into a global casino and enabled multinationals to operate increasingly free of regulatory constraints. The result has been rising levels of financial instability, unemployment, economic inequality, social tension, political instability, cultural conflict, terrorism, competition for scarce resources and ecological destruction.

All of these threats to peace and human security persist and continue to grow. The urgent compelling need for radical change and the growing danger of continued inaction are indicated by the lack of a compelling vision of the future, the loss of confidence in traditional institutions, rising cynicism regarding prevailing economic theory and policies, growing hostility to business and financial institutions, the backlash against globalization, the sense of helplessness to combat climate change, the inward turning of nations, rising disillusionment with established parties and policies, and growing resentment, alienation and violence among the youth. The social compact for peace, freedom and prosperity for all so enthusiastically embraced in the early 1990s has been replaced by a growing sense of uncertainty and insecurity regarding the future of the human community.

This trend is not inevitable. Crises can be converted into opportunities. History confirms that it often requires the intensity and urgency of serious crisis to generate the willingness for radical change. The growing disenchantment with national politics is a negative sign of a positive opportunity. The loss of faith in conventional social theories and policies is a demand for urgently needed new thinking. The failure of international institutions to fill the vacuum created at the end of the Cold War is an invitation for radical reform. Circumstances are now ripe for bold international political action to promote new thinking, strategies and policies. Opportunity knocks for an international coalition of nations, institutions and individuals dedicated to establishing a new paradigm for global peace and human security.

“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.”

2. Evolving Concept of Human Security

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 so-called 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.1

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.

3. The Evolution and Unification of Social Organization

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. 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.

The development of democracy has been the primary instrument for the vertical integration of society to reduce or eliminate class privileges and religious discrimination. For thousands of years, Indian civilization was organized politically into hundreds of princely states varying in size, language, ethnic composition and religion. The fragmentation of Indian society was finally overcome by successive foreign invasions by the Moghuls and the British. It required foreign conquest to forge national unity among this highly diverse population. It was only after India achieved independence in 1947 that these culturally related but politically separate units were fully integrated within a modern nation-state. Democracy in India has promoted vertical social integration by reducing discrimination between castes and classes. India’s diversity of language, caste, class, religion, race and political grouping—perhaps Nature’s greatest experiment with heterogeneity—has evolved into one of its greatest experiments with human unity.

The evolution of society remains a work in progress. In a few nations it has proceeded very far to ensure an atmosphere of peace, security and harmony for all members. Most offer some degree of protection. Still, in many even the basic internal conditions for peace and security within national boundaries are yet to be met. But when we look beyond the boundaries of the nation-state to the status of the human community as a whole, progress is far less evident, especially prior to 1945. Human rights, rule of law and democratic representation, which constitute the foundation of the modern democratic nation-state, are sparsely and sparingly applied to international relations. The UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set forth idealistic principles for peaceful co-existence between sovereign nation states and respect for the rights of individual citizens. In practice, the UN remains an undemocratic institution in which most power resides with the permanent members of the UN Security Council, who possess an arbitrary right to veto actions not perceived to be in their self-interest, even those supported by the entire rest of the world community.

Social evolution has progressed up to the level of the nation-state and struggles to advance haltingly beyond it. Peace and human security are still organized on that basis. Yet many of the essential conditions for permanent peace and human security necessitate cooperation and collaboration between nations. Moreover, when it comes to ecological security, global cooperation is essential. This makes the European experiment with a supranational organization of great relevance to all humanity. The problems it encounters arise mainly from two causes. First is the refusal of national governments to fully cede authority to a democratically elected, all-European government representing the rights and aspirations of all European citizens. Second is the unwillingness or inability of national populations to outgrow the limitations of national identity, as humanity has previously outgrown the limitations of family, village, tribe, ethnic, religious and cultural differences in order to establish modern nation-states. Viewed in an evolutionary perspective, further transition appears inevitable. It will require corresponding advances in social organization. Europe’s initial efforts point the way forward as well as the limitations of exclusive reliance in rules and mechanisms to achieve higher and wider levels of integration and unity. Society is a conscious living organism, not merely a constructed, inanimate machinery. Ensuring lasting peace and human security between nation-states will require psychological as well as social and cultural integration. Efforts to achieve global peace and human security can have only limited success so long as our educational system highlights differences in national culture, our economic system promotes competition between nation-states, and our political system places emphasis on national sovereignty rather than human unity.

“The UN General Assembly should assert its power to declare the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons a crime against humanity and refer a new case before the International Court of Justice demanding its recognition as valid international law.”

4. Nuclear Weapons and Cooperative Security

The persistence and proliferation of nuclear weapons graphically illustrate the limitations imposed by the prevailing system of global social and political organization. The mere existence of nuclear weapons undermines the security of all nations and people of the world, including and especially those residing in countries possessing nuclear weapons. The increasing likelihood of nuclear terrorism or blackmail threatens the security of all human beings. These weapons should never have been created. At least now they can have no possible raison d’être. They are a disease that must be abolished.

The solution does not lie in preventing Iran from acquiring nukes or convincing North Korea to give up the ones they possess, although both of these objectives are highly desirable. Nor will it be sufficient to persuade Pakistan and other nations to renounce first use of these weapons under any circumstances. The only effective solution will be for the international community in the name of humanity to declare the production, possession, use or threat of use of these weapons a crime against humanity and to destroy the weapons of mass destruction en masse. If the UN Security Council is unwilling to do it, then the UN General Assembly should assert its power to declare the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons a crime against humanity and refer a new case before the International Court of Justice demanding its recognition as valid international law. Failing that, the UN should conduct the first global electronic referendum of all adult human beings to declare the illegitimacy and illegality of these weapons.

But nuclear weapons are only one expression of the problem. The core of the problem lies in the present paradigm of competitive security in which each nation is responsible for its own security and largely dependent on its own means to secure it. Under this paradigm, each nation is encouraged to acquire the maximum defensive and offensive weapons capability to protect against any possible threat. The nature of the competitive security paradigm was graphically described by the International Commission on Peace and Food (ICPF) in its report to the UN in 1994.

The competitive security paradigm is a state-centred, egocentric approach in which the security of each nation is perceived in terms of its military superiority over potential adversaries. The push of each nation for unlimited security through military power is inherently destabilizing, since it inevitably increases the level of insecurity of other sovereign states. In practice, the effort of nations to arm themselves against perceived external threats generates a sense of insecurity among other nations and compels them in turn to increase military preparedness, thus initiating a vicious spiral, as it did during the Cold War.2

This competitive paradigm was responsible for the insane escalation of arms production during the Cold War, which still persists today. That is the logic which led to 70,000 nuclear weapons and now sustains $1.6 trillion in global military expenditure, up by 45% in nominal terms since the end of the Cold War. The only obvious permanent solution is to shift to a cooperative security system open to all nations in which each contributes to and is protected by the overall preparedness of the collective in exchange for renouncing the right to aggression against any other state for any reason.

What is needed is a quantum shift from the competitive security paradigm to a cooperative security system in which countries mutually and collectively agree to refrain from acts of aggression and to protect each other from such acts by any nation. This principle served to protect the NATO and Warsaw Pact countries in the past, but on an exclusive basis which promoted a polarization of alliances into military blocs and, most importantly, left more than one hundred countries outside the security orbit and vulnerable to proxy wars. It should now be restructured on a global basis as a collective security system that offers protection to all nations from external aggression.3

NATO is a working example of a cooperative security system, but it remains an exclusive club and a perceived threat to countries which are denied entry. The expansion of NATO may make the nations of Eastern Europe feel safer, but it also acts as a spur to greater military spending by Russia, China, India, Iran, Pakistan and a host of other states left outside its purview. The only permanent solution is a global cooperative security system, which necessitates an effective system of global governance. We have avoided world war for 65 years, but we have yet to secure peace. That we can only accomplish together.

Toward the end, in its report, ICPF called for the establishment of a truly cooperative international security system supported by a world peace army open to all democratic nations willing to renounce war as an instrument of public policy and committed to defend each other against any acts of aggression from member or non-member countries. The proposal resembles the constitution of NATO except that it is an inclusive system open to all and exclusively defensive in character.

5. Economic and Ecological Challenges to National Sovereignty & Global Rule of Law

As the recent nuclear accident at Fukushima illustrates, environmental catastrophes can be equally or more devastating than a nuclear detonation. It matters little to the hundreds of thousands of people who were driven from their homes, many never to return, whether the event was intentional or accidental. If this accident had occurred in Western Europe, instead of insular Japan, the radiation would have respected no national boundaries. If national sovereignty accords each nation the right to decide on the source of energy it will generate for its own use, what does it say about the right of neighboring nations to protection from the threat of nuclear contamination from beyond their borders? While regional security may be achieved by cooperation with other nations, global environmental security can only be achieved by cooperation with all nations. It is not the right of nations that is at stake here but the right of humanity as a whole to the global commons.

The inviolable sovereignty of the nation-state is a flawed conception that cannot withstand rational scrutiny. The legitimate claims of the nation-state for self-determinism must also take into account the legitimate claims of the individuals who constitute each nation and the total collective of those individuals who constitute humanity as a whole. Justice cannot support claims of the sole legitimacy of any of the three at the expense of the other two. The legitimate source of authority for the nation-state derives from the consent of the governed, which is based on the inviolable sovereignty of the individual, and from the inviolable sovereign rights of humanity, which has chosen to organize itself as a community of nations.

Economic globalization has already undermined the nation-states’ imperious claim. The myth of national sovereignty has already been defeated by the global marketplace, especially by international financial markets. Foreign exchange transactions average some four trillion dollars daily. These transactions consist primarily of surplus money circling the globe in search of higher returns, moving with the speed of light and with callous indifference to consequences of an earthquake or tsunami. Like its natural counterparts, this ungoverned social tempest is utterly without conscience, but not without intention. It thrives on uncertainty and strives to multiply complexity in an effort to conceal its transactions in a bewildering haze of jargon and sleight of hand. It seeks to destabilize national currencies in order to take advantage of sudden changes in their value. It rushes in and out of countries with highly disruptive consequences. It is utilized to hoard scarce food grains, energy and other raw materials to drive up international prices, to the detriment of people everywhere. Its aim is to maximize self-interest regardless of whose interests are sacrificed as a result. It plays nation and against nation in a competitive game designed to minimize taxation and legal accountability. It strikes every vulnerability, uttering the hallowed name of free markets and economic science as it plunders. The soul and mastermind of the international financial markets is a computer running black-box trading algorithms, which have already wreaked havoc on the global economy on several occasions. Nations are defenseless against this most pernicious of all computer viruses, the virus of financial speculation, which moves with total abandon across national borders. Even the strongest of central banks, acting on its own, is hapless to defend itself. But worst of all, the entire world economy is held hostage for an extortionist’s ransom. Tens of millions of jobs, which mean tens of millions of lives, are prey to its whims. In the name of free markets, growing numbers of people everywhere are deprived of one of the most basic of human freedoms, the freedom of livelihood.

Financial speculation represents as real a threat to human security as nuclear weapons and climate change. Its actions may be less physically destructive, but its sudden and pervasive impact is deeply disruptive of the very fabric of peace, prosperity and human well-being. Speculation is defended in the name of freedom supported by neoliberal economic philosophy. It represents a gross perversion of the original intention for which financial markets were invented as a means to facilitate and support the growth of the real economy. On the contrary, speculation diverts resources from the real economy and undermines its stability. The rapidly expanding gap between the rich and poor in recent times is channeling more and more wealth from productive purposes into a pseudo world where money chases money instead of creating real wealth, employment and welfare. Investors rightly point out that an effort to regulate or tax money flows and transactions nationally will only encourage the movement of money to foreign markets. Yet the very same group vigorously protests efforts to establish uniform policies and tax rates globally, for that would remove the threat which prevents national governments from regulating or taxing financial transactions. Speculation thrives in the absence of effective global financial regulatory mechanisms. The wisdom of the marketplace is a myth. The only truly free markets are those that are subject to regulations that preserve competition and a level playing field. Left to themselves, markets do not take cognizance of human welfare.

Global peace and human security cannot be achieved without establishment of effective global regulatory mechanisms to govern the activities of financial markets and multinational corporations. Differences in policy and enforcement are an open invitation for arbitrage. The destructive impact of speculative currency trading can be substantially mitigated without detriment to the global economy by imposition of a uniform Tobin Tax on short term, cross-border currency movements that are not directly related to trade or direct investment. One immediate result would be productive investment in human welfare by freeing trillions of dollars in foreign exchange presently held in reserve by national governments to defend their currencies against the threat of sudden attack. Ultimately, a permanent solution requires a unified global financial organization backed by international law, a world reserve currency and a world central bank.

Similarly, environmental challenges are oblivious of national borders and claims to national sovereignty. Environmental threats clearly and compellingly demonstrate the need for united and concerted global action by all nation-states. But this is a field in which cooperation rarely extends beyond the conference table. International environmental law is rudimentary at best. Ecological issues require the formulation of new legal principles embracing a universal concept of sovereignty, which international courts are reluctant to embrace. The concept of national sovereignty—the idea that the state is not subject to any higher jurisdiction apart from laws and regulations with which it voluntarily complies—is inconsistent with principles of justice and human security for all. The emergence of common global environmental threats, such as chemical and radioactive pollution, the exhaustion of energy, mineral and water resources, and climate change, compels us to accelerate the evolution of international law. Law is both a condition and a consequence of social development, a form of social organization and an outcome of the broader process of social development.4

Historically, law evolved as a mechanism for conflict avoidance and resolution. Law is a civilizing force that evolves as society develops, transforming the raw power of physical violence into legal authority. Law represents the sublimation of violence by acceptance of common values, principles and processes for defining rights, governing conduct and resolving disputes. Law presupposes the existence of a collective. International law presupposes the existence of an international community—a community of people as well as states. Social order does not necessitate law. Primitive societies can be sustained on the basis of arbitrary authority, the rule of force and power. Law becomes essential when the rights of the individual and groups are to be safeguarded from arbitrary action. Law emerges in society with the emergence of the individual. Law represents the power of the impersonal collective over the individual, but also the acceptance by the individual of the impersonal authority of the collective internalized in his own mind. Therefore, laws presuppose the mental development and awakening of the individual. What begins as custom and usage evolves over time into codified law. Customs are based on values. Laws come into existence when the customs are accepted by all members of society. The most fundamental premise of law is that each individual’s existence must be in harmony with that of everyone else’s. The challenge today is for us to embrace shared values with respect to the global commons and the sovereign rights of individuals, nation-states and humanity as a whole.§

The evolution of law at the level of the nation-state is far advanced. At the level of the international community it is much less developed. The emergence of a shared global awareness and common human identity is still in a nascent state of emergence. The institutions needed to effectively organize global society have not yet acquired the requisite authority and strength. The process needed to create a comprehensive framework for global rule of law is still lacking. Insistent adherence to an outmoded historical concept of sovereignty is a major obstacle to the development of an effective global political, legal and social organization.5

6. Right to Peace

Since 1984, the UN General Assembly has been debating drafts of a resolution affirming the human right to peace. Subsequently the resolution has been considered by the Human Rights Committee. The right of peoples to peace resolution contains four substantive sections: 1. The solemn proclamation that the peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace; 2. The solemn declaration that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each State; 3. The demand that the policies of States be directed towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations; 4. The supplication to all States and all international organizations to do their utmost in implementing the right of peoples to peace.6

Inspired by resolutions previously approved by the General Assembly, since 2008 the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations in Geneva has been working on the “Promotion of the right of peoples to peace”. On 1 July 2016 the HRC adopted a Declaration on the Right to Peace and recommended that the General Assembly adopt this Declaration in its 71st regular session, which would have begun its work in September 2016.

Why has there been need for three decades of debate to affirm what must be regarded as the most fundamental and inalienable of all human rights? The long struggle to obtain final approval by the UNGA reflects the complexity of the legal implications of its adoption and the cumbersomeness of the procedures for international deliberation. But most of all, it reflects the difficulty in overcoming the reluctance of nation-states to recognize the sovereignty of the individual human being.

7. Social Foundations of Human Security

There can be no assured peace and human security without addressing the international dimensions of peace—universal human rights, national sovereignty, global governance and rule of law, cooperative security, abolition of nuclear weapons and coordinated global action to address the environmental challenges. But these alone do not constitute a sufficient foundation for universal peace, social harmony and human security. The roots of conflict and violence lie in the deeper layers of human society and they can only be effectively extracted by addressing the issue at a more fundamental level.

This article has so far focused on the organizational structure of society. But it is also necessary to examine the content or substance of society and the process by which it is organized. Society is a living organism composed of living individuals and groups of individuals. They possess a vast reservoir of human potential in the form of energies, aspirations, ideas, attitudes, values, beliefs, knowledge, skills, and capacities that are expressed through myriad forms and varieties of organized and unorganized activity. This reservoir is the source and basis for all human activities, innovations, creativity and organization. The rapid and remarkable development of global society over the past few millennia has resulted from an increased capacity to develop, release, direct and channel this human potential for socially productive purposes. Its basis is the expansion of positive relations and increasing cooperation and coordination of activities between individuals and groups. It has been accomplished through the systematic development of social organization, including the institutions of national government and international relations, law and justice, military, transport, communication, production, trade, education, scientific research, media and many others.

This process of social organization is the key to the process of social development. The process of development can be defined as an upward directional movement of society from lesser to greater levels of energy, efficiency, quality, productivity, complexity, comprehension, creativity, enjoyment and accomplishment. The essential nature of the process is the progressive development of social organizations and institutions that harness and direct the social energies for higher levels of accomplishment. Society develops by organizing all the knowledge, human energies and material resources at its disposal to fulfill its aspirations.7

“When the social organization is rigid and resistant to change or when it tries to direct the maximum benefits to an élite group, the energies are not able to find productive expression, and they begin to spill over in the form of frustration, discontent and violence.”

The organization of society converts social potential into many different types of social power—power for defense, governance, law, transportation, communication, production, commerce, research, education, healthcare, etc. All these forms of power are linked together, interdependent and interconvertible. The organization that accomplishes the transformation of social potential into usable social power grows increasingly sophisticated and complex.8

The values, ideals and structures that govern how the organized power is utilized determine the character of the society and its capacity for peace, stability, harmonious relationships and human security. Democratic values and institutions which recognize and uphold the rights of each individual and diverse grouping of individuals promote lasting peace and security. So also, social structures that maximize the equitable distribution of power among individuals, levels and groups and prevent the usurping of power by privileged minorities achieve the highest level of harmony and stability.

The relationship between peace and development is subtle and complex. It holds the key to effective strategies for addressing the roots of social unrest and violence. Society is not static or rigid. It continuously develops by an evolution of consciousness and organization. The awareness and aspirations of its members continuously expand and release fresh energies. Former WAAS President Harlan Cleveland observed this process in East Asia after the Second World War and described it is as a “revolution of rising expectations”.9 Rising expectations are the principal driving force for social development.

In the measure the social organization is sufficiently developed to provide effective avenues for these fresh energies to find constructive, productive expression, social progress is smooth and rapid. In times of war or natural calamity, society channels all the available energies to cope with the crisis. Thus, we find nations able to double or triple their productive capacity within a short time as USA did after entering World War II. So also, rapidly expanding economic opportunity, such as that prevalent in the USA and Europe after the last world war and in East Asia during the last quarter of the 20th century, generates an enormous power for rapid social development which fully absorbs the available social energies for productive purposes.

When the social organization is rigid and resistant to change or when it tries to direct the maximum benefits to an élite group, the energies are not able to find productive expression, and they begin to spill over in the form of frustration, discontent and violence. Power becomes more and more concentrated as it did in pre-revolutionary France and Russia and inequality rises dramatically as it did in USA during the 1920s and in many countries since 2000. The growing gap between rising expectations and increasing social opportunities leads to mounting discontent, tension and propensity for conflict. Great revolutions were the result of this process. The faster and higher aspirations rise, the greater the likely gap between expectations and reality. That gap promotes a sense of frustration, depravation and aggression leading to social unrest and violence.

This process explains why violence actually increases even during times of rapid economic development, as witnessed in India and many other developing countries in recent decades. The discontent does not arise from a real increase in poverty. It arises rather from an increasing gap between aspirations and opportunities to realize them. The spread of democracy, the rapid development of the media, and greater access to education all increase public awareness about how people live in other parts of the society and in other countries, leading to increased awareness of their own relative deprivation and consequently increasing frustration.

8. Role of Economic Development

This process of social development explains why a comprehensive approach to peace and human security must necessarily take into account economic opportunity as well as political rights. Economic relations have always been an important and effective means for avoidance of war. The 20th century marked a radical shift from political negotiations to economic cooperation between nations, characterized by the opening of commercial relations for mutual benefit. The dramatic transformation of relations between China and USA since 1972 in spite of continued acute ideological differences is a remarkable instance of the power of economy to improve relations between people.

But the relationship between peace and economics is valid at the national level as well as at the level of international relations. This is dramatically illustrated by the sudden, unexpected end of religious conflict and terrorism in North Ireland since 2005. Up to that time the Irish conflict seemed so intractable that it appeared it would go on for decades. Like the conflict in Palestine, it had its origins in the distant past when England first colonized Ireland and subjected it to a deeply humiliating and oppressive imperial rule. The Roman conquest which conquered England did not reach Ireland and Scotland. Celtic Ireland lay beyond the pale of the Roman Empire and preserved its own distinct culture. The English colonial settlement of Ireland imposed centuries of severe hardship under English rule. The forced settlement of Belfast by Scottish Presbyterians generated deep resentment among Irish Catholics. Irish independence in 1920 shifted the center of attention to the foreign occupied Northern region. An inextricable mixture of political, economic, cultural and religious factors made the problem intractable and seemingly beyond solution. Its intractable nature was complicated by the fact that the population of North Ireland witnessed bitter dispute between almost equal numbers of Irish Catholics on one side and Scottish and English Protestants on the other.

“There can be no effective and lasting solution to promoting peace and human security in a society which does not generate sufficient opportunities for gainful employment or provide some alternative means of ensuring social welfare.”

While many factors contributed to the remarkable transformation in North Ireland, one least appreciated was the consequence of rapid economic development in the Republic of Ireland to its south. When Ireland entered the European Union it was considered the basket case of Europe with high levels of poverty and unemployment, and very high rates of emigration to UK and USA. As a result, the population of Irish descent living outside of Ireland is roughly fifteen times higher than the present 4.5 million people living in Ireland. Faster rates of growth among the Catholic population in North Ireland aggravated tensions between communities, since it became evident that they would soon outnumber the Protestants who gave allegiance to Britain. The economic disparities between North and South were another aggravating factor, resulting in a steady flow of migrants and job seekers from Ireland to North Ireland until around 2000.

The turning point occurred imperceptibly when Ireland entered the European Economic Community, forerunner of the European Union, in 1973, but the consequences of that step did not become fully perceptible until nearly three decades later. During that period Ireland gradually transformed itself from Europe’s basket case to become its fastest growing economy in the 1990s, when its rapid economic development earned it the title of the Celtic Tiger. By year 2000, per capita income and employment rates in Ireland exceeded those in the UK and the direction of net migration reversed. Ireland became a popular destination for the North Irish, English and other Europeans in quest of better employment opportunities.

Until this dramatic change, a widespread belief had persisted that the conflict in North Ireland was essentially religious in nature and that anything short of a fundamental change in religious sentiments would be inadequate to resolve the conflict. However, a more considered view suggests that the factors influencing the region were at once far more subtle and more complex. After nearly five decades of terrorist violence, the conflict ended quite suddenly and unexpectedly in 2005, when the IRA announced plans for unilateral disarmament. The sudden peace in North Ireland gives us hope and teaches us not to rely too much on past precedent and recent experience in assessing the future prospects for peace in other regions subject to prolonged conflict.

9. The Right to Employment

Access to gainful employment is essential for promoting peace and human security nationally and globally. In a modern market economy, employment is the principal means by which individuals acquire the purchasing power to meet basic human needs for food, clothing, housing, education, and medical care and to fulfill their rising aspirations to benefit from the ever expanding array of comforts and conveniences offered by modern society. It is the basis for economic democracy, equivalent to the right to vote in political democracy. In recognition of this fact, US President Franklin Roosevelt planned to introduce a second Bill of Rights at the end of World War II protecting employment and other economic rights, but died before he could do so. Employment should be recognized as a fundamental human right and constitutionally guaranteed.

There is substantial evidence linking high rates of youth unemployment with rising levels of crime, violence and terrorism around the world. The Naxalite Maoist movement in Central India, radical Islam in the Middle East and Pakistan, drugs and violent crime in urban USA, Central America and Africa are all related to the absence of employment opportunities. There can be no effective and lasting solution to promoting peace and human security in a society which does not generate sufficient opportunities for gainful employment or provide some alternative means of ensuring social welfare.

The problem of employment is neither insoluble nor inevitable. It is the direct result of policies and priorities held sacrosanct, because they benefit established centers of economic and social power. Rules such as the tax rates applicable to payroll and capital gains, patent and copyright laws, policies concerning interest rates and speculative investment, incentives for investment in human capital, subsidies for energy and technology-intensive investments, all impact on employment. Change the rules and unemployment can be eliminated. Today’s economies are organized to maximize growth, speculative investments, corporate profits, expenditure on weapons, high energy consumption and ecological destruction, rather than peace, human security, welfare and well-being. Change the system and the threats to human security can be radically reduced.

Employment is a global challenge, as well as a national problem. The competitive policies of other countries undermine efforts to manage employment solely at the national level. Solution to the global employment challenge necessitates global coordination of policies and strategies to harness the enormous potential of human capital and financial capital to ensure stable employment opportunities for workers everywhere. The alternative is increasing inequality, instability and unrest that threaten to tear apart the delicate social fabric woven so patiently, yet so sensitive and intolerant of neglect.

Peace and rising expectations fueled by the information age and rising human insecurity resulting from unfettered markets are an insufficient foundation for building a peaceful and prosperous world. The absence of international regulation and coordination is exploited to the advantage of multinational corporations at the expense of job seekers. Global policy coordination can stabilize global labor markets, but it will not address the severe inequalities in wages, which are aggravated by the ease with which jobs now move from one place to another. Some form of global minimum wage, which could be graded according to average national income, would more substantially benefit low income workers with minimal impact on total employment. Its main affect would be to remove the price subsidy which presently benefits more wealthy consumers domestically and abroad.

“The greatest obstacle to global full employment is not population, automation, world trade, multi-national corporations or outsourcing. It is our collective faith in the myth of market fundamentalism.”

Effective policies can address the global employment challenge, but they must be human-centered policies. Current policies are based on the flawed notion that full employment is neither possible nor even desirable and on a system of values that gives greater importance to money than it gives to human welfare. The human resource is the most creative, productive and precious of all resources. Human beings are a perishable resource. Their capacities grow when effectively engaged, decline when left inactive. Society has a vast array of unmet and inadequately met needs—for education, health care, housing, environmental remediation, etc. At the same time, the current system possesses all the human and financial resources required to fully meet these needs, but it allows these precious resources to remain grossly underutilized or misdirected.

Efficient market theory is a terrible misnomer. Replacing human beings with machines may be efficient for the firm, but it is highly inefficient and wasteful for society. The greatest obstacle to global full employment is not population, automation, world trade, multi-national corporations or outsourcing. It is our collective faith in the myth of market fundamentalism. Valid economic theory must be based on the premise that the primary purpose of economic systems is to generate human security and promote human welfare, not to maximize growth or preserve accumulated wealth. Such a theory must be founded on the right to gainful employment as a fundamental human right.

10. The Evolution of Diplomacy

The course of history traces the evolution of diplomacy as a means for conflict avoidance and resolution. Several major stages can be identified that have transformed global society during the 20th century. The stages overlap and often occur out of turn, but still we can perceive a certain continuity in the progression from first to last. Before the advent of diplomacy, warfare was the principal means resorted to for settling conflicts based on the relative strength of the opposing parties. But even in early history, peaceful alternatives to warfare became prevalent. Among the most common was the forging of marriage alliances as a substitute for war or conquest. “Family diplomacy” enabled countries and empires to bind themselves to one another without resorting to wars of conquest and submission. During the 19th century, nearly all the monarchs of Europe including Queen Victoria and Czar Alexander were members of the same extended family related by marriage. At an early stage of social evolution, a transition occurred from physical warfare to political treaties and alliances. Political diplomacy seeks to resolve or avoid military conflicts through treaty negotiations, alliances and balance of power based on bargaining and compromise. This phase characterized relations within Europe for many centuries and persisted as a dominant form of relationship until the end of the Cold War.

“Conflicts lend themselves to full and final resolution when we fully and genuinely recognize the truth in the other person’s point of view.”

Throughout history, diplomacy has often been clothed in high principles, fundamental rights and good intentions, but in practice these were usually little more than a veil for self-interest and self-justification. The transition from the politics of pure power and self-interest to political diplomacy based on principles of peaceful co-existence and rule of law is a recent phenomenon, even now respected more in word than in real act or intention at the national and international levels. The events that triggered the two world wars and many other regional conflicts were often clothed in similar garb. But in recent decades diplomacy based on Principles, Law and Rights has become more than mere words. The establishment of the International Court of Justice, the founding of the UN, ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and creation of the EU are remarkable and unprecedented efforts of humanity to move beyond power to law, a process that is still only half done.

The 20th century marked a radical shift from political negotiations to economic cooperation between nations, characterized by the opening of commercial relations for mutual benefit. Economic relations have always been an important and effective diplomatic strategy and have become the most prevalent form of diplomacy today. The dramatic transformation of relations between China and USA at the height of the Cold War in 1972 in spite of continued acute ideological differences is a remarkable instance of the power of economy to improve relations between people. Before President Nixon’s surprise visit, such a radical change in relations seemed truly unimaginable.

Culture has always been a powerful force of change. Cultural diplomacy marks a significant step beyond traditional forms of political and economic diplomacy. Here the emphasis shifts from political treaties and trade agreements to social and cultural exchanges in which conflicts are resolved by mutual attraction to what is new, different and unique in other cultures. At its highest, cultural reconciliation leads to understanding that differences can be fully reconciled through mutual understanding and harmony. At its best, cultural diplomacy can lead to a higher stage of diplomacy which may be termed psychological. In this stage, we discover the universal principle that there is a truth in every point of view, even those which are diametrically opposite to our own. Conflicts lend themselves to full and final resolution when we fully and genuinely recognize the truth in the other person’s point of view.

The progression from military to political to economic to cultural and psychological diplomacy marks the transition from contradiction, conflict, and competition to compromise, reconciliation, harmony, and mutuality. Through this process, humanity evolves from the physical man to become the social and mental man. By this process violent revolution is transformed into social evolution, as the violent revolutionary fervor of France in the 1790s was transformed into peaceful social evolution between the classes on the other side of the English Channel in England. Intermarriage between classes, religions, nationalities and even races has become a common means for cultural integration. Humanity starts by relating physically through war. It evolves to relating socially through trade. It evolves further by relating psychologically through culture. Culture represents the psychological evolution of humanity, as education reflects the evolution of knowledge.

11. Cultural Diplomacy

Culture is the finest flower of human social evolution containing the essence of knowledge and experience accumulated through long centuries of history and civilization. The astonishing achievements of the human community over the past few millennia are the product of intensive and incessant contact, exchange and interchange between cultures at the level of objects, foods, plants and animals, tools, products, languages, mathematics, technologies, customs, laws, systems of governance, religion, science, philosophy, art, architecture, literature and the other arts. All that humanity possesses today in terms of knowledge, skill and ways of life is the product of global cultural collaboration. Culture has an unrivalled capacity to generate positive, constructive human relations.

Cultural exchange is the highest in an ascending series of social measures that can be applied to sublimate humanity’s aggressive instincts and reliance on physical violence and political power to resolve disputes and forge cooperative interactions between individuals and social groups. Because of its subtle character, cultural influences permeate by osmosis from one society to another, defying the political and social barriers that often obstruct understanding and recognizing the value of other societies. Past experience suggests that the comprehensive, systematic application of cultural diplomacy in concert with appropriate economic and other strategies can achieve a sudden breakthrough in relations in places which have defied resolution for decades through more conventional forms of diplomacy.

Political diplomacy is primarily the task of governments. Cultural diplomacy is primarily the work of civil society at the national and international levels. Business too has played an enormous role in spreading awareness of other cultures and ways of life through the dissemination of lifestyle products, books, TV, cinema and other popular media. Witness the craze in China when Apple releases a new model iPhone. The world media plays a similar role. It provides information and news about people and events that generate common global understanding, culture, values and lifestyles.

Global Civil Society plays an increasingly prominent role in promoting peace under circumstances in which national governments are severely constrained. Following the end of the Cold War, the number of international non-governmental organizations has grown rapidly to exceed 40,000. This is in addition to the millions of national and local level NGOs, many of which also interact across national boundaries.

Of all the instruments for cultural diplomacy, the most powerful of all is the instantaneous exchange of information and ideas across national boundaries over the Internet, which has grown exponentially to become the first truly global social organization linking and binding together more than a billion people around the world into a single cultural community. The Internet permits the rapid diffusion of ideas and knowledge globally, enabling them to permeate all but the most inaccessible places and impenetrable political barriers. From a sparsely populated map of linkages between research institutions in the 1960s, it has evolved into a densely woven web of interrelationships linking together people, organizations and activities encompassing the entire gamut of humanity’s global social life. It has done more than any other institution to forge a common sense of humanity and unified human culture.

12. Theoretical Foundations for Peace and Human Security

Diplomacy that transfers conflict from the battlefield to the conference table, abolition of nuclear weapons, commitment to universal human rights (including the right to peace) and rule of law, truly democratic institutions for global and national governance, acceptance of a wider conception of sovereignty that recognizes the legitimate claims of individuals and humanity, economic and employment security for all, a halt to predatory speculative financial activities, effective measures to reduce economic and social inequality, harmonious multi-culturalism, and concerted efforts to protect the environment are core elements of a comprehensive strategy to promote global peace and human security. Many of them are reflected in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations for global implementation. These challenging and elusive goals are necessary, but not sufficient to secure peace and human security for all.

Violence is rooted not only in human actions and emotions, but in ideas as well. Religious crusades, slavery, colonialism, imperialism, racial superiority, proletarian dictatorship, people’s democracy and balance of power are among the long list of ideas which have channeled the energies of their people into horrendous acts of warfare and self-destruction in the past. Today we look back on these discredited ideas as primitive and barbaric relics of earlier times. Yet the seeds of violence live on in intellectual notions and theories that still command respect and adherence today, most notably in the fields of social science.

Contemporary social policies are still founded on outdated notions of a clock-work, mechanical universe tending toward equilibrium, natural selection and survival of the fittest, scarcity, and positivistic, value-free, objective ideas about science. Inspired by the achievements of the natural sciences in earlier centuries, the social sciences have attempted to reproduce the objectivity and rigorous discipline developed for the study of material phenomena in physical nature. This led to the search for impersonal, immutable universal laws governing society, akin to Newton’s laws of motion and thermodynamics. It also led to the emphasis on quantitative measurements and mathematical formulations which have proven so precise and effective in the material sciences.10 The philosophy of positivism which prevailed in the natural sciences eventually took hold in the social sciences as well. In the process, the social sciences have largely come to ignore or regard as externalities vitally important distinctions between social and natural sciences.

The notion of a natural law and universal principles central to the natural sciences fails to take into account the conscious dimension of human behavior and individual uniqueness, which are vitally important to understanding the role of conscious human choice and its impact on social systems. Efforts to discover universal laws of political, economic, and social behavior fail to recognize the fact that the laws governing human society are created by human beings and are determined by prevailing values, attitudes, laws, customs, institutions, and social forces rather than immutable universal principles. Today few recall that Adam Smith considered himself as a morale philosopher, not a scientist. His advocacy for free markets was to counter the incestuous relations between business and government that shaped the policies of mercantilism. Smith’s objective was to enhance human welfare and well-being by eliminating unfair policies designed to benefit the wealthy and powerful.

The aim of social science is not to imitate the impartiality of Nature founded on the law of the jungle, but rather to maximize human security and well-being. Philosopher of Science Karl Popper rejected the notion of value-free social science and emphasized the central importance of the ethical dimension in the social sciences. He cautioned against “misguided naturalism” and called on social scientists to accept moral responsibility for the outcomes of their knowledge. Persistent poverty, high levels of unemployment, and widening inequality reflect failures of knowledge, not immutable laws of social science.11 Social science must be human-centered and founded on the power of conscious human beings rather than immutable laws of material nature.

Social science also ignores the single most powerful factor in social evolution: the role of the individual. It ignores the fact that a single person—a Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Gorbachev—can change the world. In an effort to mimic the mathematical and statistical perfection of other sciences, the emphasis on mean, median, and standard deviation in the social sciences obscures the fact that all significant changes in social behavior originate in the mind and action of a single individual and from there spread to groups and the larger collective. The determinative power of the individual on the welfare and well-being of the collective is sufficient justification for all initiatives to eliminate authoritarianism and injustice, eradicate inequality, abolish nuclear weapons, fight against oligarchy and plutocracy, and strive to establish a harmonious and inclusive social organization promoting the peace, human security and well-being of all human beings.12

The prevailing concepts of war and peace based on the limited perspective of political and military science need to be broadened and founded on a comprehensive, integrated, transdisciplinary, human-centered science of society. Only then will we possess the right theoretical foundations to achieve permanent peace and human security for all.

13. Need for Integrative Thinking

Social theory forms the explicit and implicit basis for our conception of what is possible and the formulation of policies to achieve it. Theory is a product of the way we think. Different types of thinking have different epistemological foundations. The notion of peace as the absence of war and the conception of security in narrow military terms are the products of analytic thinking, which dominated scientific thought for three centuries based on a positivistic, reductionist view of reality. Positivism eliminated the role of consciousness and choice from the study of humanity. Reductionism eliminated the complexity arising from the interrelatedness and interdependence of all aspects of social reality. The study of the individual elements as separate aspects of reality is useful and necessary for practical purposes. But when mistaken for reality itself, it introduces significant distortions and errors that can have immense practical implications and in some cases catastrophic consequences. The 2008 financial crisis and the Cold War nuclear arms race are striking instances.

Analytic thinking utilizes the mind’s capacity to divide reality and life into categories, classifications, sectors, subjects, topics, specializations, components, systems, elements, fragments, parts and particles and regard each as if it exists separately and independently from all the rest. Mind’s capacity for division and analytic thinking inevitably led to a proliferation of separate disciplines, to specialization, and compartmentalization of knowledge with immense consequences. Over the last five centuries, the number of intellectual disciplines has multiplied from five to around 1000 disciplines and sub-disciplines. As the study of reality is divided up into smaller and smaller pieces, specialization has led to increasing fragmentation of knowledge. Viewing each field independently has generated precise knowledge of the parts, but obscured the complex interactions and interdependencies between elements that are essential for knowledge of the whole.13

The insufficiency of analytic thinking became increasingly apparent during the 20th century and led to development of more holistic ways of thinking in fields such as biology, ecology, genetics, cybernetics, systems theory, management science, neutral networks, complexity and chaos theory, and artificial intelligence. These new approaches are all founded on the capacity of mind to aggregate the fragments of reality conceived by analytic thinking in an effort to understand the interrelationships and interdependencies between the parts. Systems thinking has led to the identification of a number of transdisciplinary principles applicable to all fields of social science, such as feedback loops, self-organization, network effects, and emergent properties, which link apparently independent fields together.

This more inclusive type of thinking confirms the view that peace and human security depend on a wide range of political, economic, social, cultural and environmental factors. But even systems thinking is an inadequate instrument to fully comprehend the intricate complexity of social reality. Society is an integrated whole. Every aspect and dimension is interconnected with all the others, just as the health of human body depends on interactions and interdependencies between virtually all of its parts, organs and systems. Integrality cannot be attained by a mere aggregation and assembly of its constituent elements, any more than the living integrity of the human body can be accurately represented or reproduced by a constructed assembly of its constituent atoms, molecules, cells, organs and systems. Nor can it be achieved even by identifying all of the myriad links between its constituent components. Society, like the body, is a living organism. It is organically integrated. It is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. It cannot be understood by modes of thinking that regard the whole as a mere aggregation of interlinked parts. More effective social theory needs to be founded on more integrative types of thinking, which will require a radical reorientation of the educational system.

“WAAS proposes the establishment of an International Center on Human Security (ICHS) committed to an integrated approach that encompasses the political, economic, social, cultural and ecological dimensions of human security.”

14. Peace as an Emergent Property

Peace and human security are characteristics of society as a whole, not merely of one dimension of its integrated existence. Peace is an emergent property of a social organization that effectively addresses the full spectrum of human needs in a manner that maximizes individual freedom, social equality, economic opportunity, welfare and well-being in a manner that also recognizes the rights of other individuals and groups, promotes social harmony and cultural diversity.

15. Proposal

An integrated, value-based, human-centered approach to peace and human security will be difficult to advance based on the compartmentalized structure of social science research prevalent in universities and research institutes. Moreover, an integrated approach cannot be effectively undertaken by institutions whose responsibilities are primarily for observation and analysis rather than for action. Nor can it be accomplished by purely political institutions which are subject to the dictates of prevailing governmental policy. Theory and practical application need to go hand in hand, but they need to be considered in an atmosphere free from the imposition either of conventional social theory or prevailing public policies.

For this purpose, WAAS proposes the establishment of an International Center on Human Security (ICHS) committed to an integrated approach that encompasses the political, economic, social, cultural and ecological dimensions of human security. The center could be established by a coalition of governments, research institutes and NGOs committed to fresh thinking and new policy measures designed to break the logjam that presently stalls progress on critical issues.

The structure and governance of the center might well be similar to that of European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world’s leading institute for applied research in the field of particle physics based in Geneva, and, incidentally, the birthplace of the World Wide Web. Established by 12 European nations in 1954, CERN’s membership now includes 22 countries and it works in close cooperation with other leading research institutes around the world. CERN operates autonomously and democratically and provides an excellent model for multi-national, cross-cultural research.

The purpose of ICHS would be political rather than academic. Although engaged in research, its activities would focus on formulating and propagating effective, implementable solutions to real world issues through international collaboration. Its aim would be to build alliances of partner countries and institutions committed to quantum change. The work of the center would be global in scope and relevance, while giving special attention to issues of regional concern.

The World Academy’s research program to formulate a new paradigm for human development confirms that solutions do exist to the pressing political, economic, social, cultural and ecological challenges confronting humanity today.14 Recent work by the Academy and other organizations on new economic theory, global employment challenge, the future of education, nuclear weapons, peace, cooperative security, multiculturalism and ecological security can serve as a useful foundation for the activities of the center. Regardless of its structure and membership, the mandate of ICHS would be to evolve new theoretical perspectives and practical strategies to address the most pressing challenges to global peace and human security in a comprehensive and integrated manner.


  1. Ashok Natarajan, “The Relationship between European Integration and the End of the Cold War: Lessons for Global Peace and Development”, Eruditio 1, no.2 (2012): 57-69.
  2. International Commission on Peace and Food, Uncommon Opportunities (London: Zed Books, 1994), 40
  3. Uncommon Opportunities, 43.
  4. Winston Nagan and Garry Jacobs, “New Paradigm for Global Rule of Law,” Cadmus 1, no.4 (2012):130-146.
  5. Winston Nagan and Garry Jacobs, “Evolution of Sovereignty,” Eruditio 1, no.3 (2013): 108-127.
  6. Charles Guillermet-Fernández and David Fernández Puyana, “The 70th Anniversary of the creation of the United Nations: Giving Peace a Chance,” Cadmus 2, no.4 (20-35)
  7. Harlan Cleveland and Garry Jacobs, Human Choice: The Genetic Code for Social Development (Napa: World Academy of Art & Science, 1999), 5
  8. Garry Jacobs, Winston Nagan & Alberto Zucconi, “Unification in the Social Sciences,” Cadmus 2, no.3 (2014) 1-22
  9. Ashok Natarajan, “Rising Expectations, Social Unrest & Development,” Eruditio 1, no. 3(2011): 88-99
  10. Garry Jacobs, “The Need for a New Paradigm in Economics,” Review of Keynesian Economics 3, no. 1(2015), 2-8.
  11. Jacobs, “New Paradigm in Economics,” Review of Keynesian Economics.
  12. Jacobs, Nagan and Zucconi, “Unification in the Social Sciences,” Cadmus.
  13. Garry Jacobs, “A Brief History of Mind and Civilization,” Cadmus 2, no.6 (2016):71-110.
  14. Garry Jacobs, “New Paradigm: The Necessity and the Opportunity,” Cadmus 2, no.2 (2014): 9-23.

* Based on a speech delivered by the author at The Inter Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics at United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 14, 2016.

A positive conception of peace is found in the ancient Indian Sanskrit term for peace, “shanti”, which refers to a positive condition founded on spiritual foundations of inner strength and harmony which are immune to all disturbances. The application of this concept to international relations was explored and developed in discussions with Robert van Harten and Mark Spetter, in 2006-7 during preparation of their joint PhD proposal for research on a theory of peace.

This section is based on a paper presented by the author at the UNESCO Conference on Sustainable Development, Dubrovnik, in September 2011 which was published as an article entitled “Turn Toward Unity” in Cadmus. 1-3, Oct 2011, p115.

§ This paragraph includes excerpts from the author’s paper titled “Turn Toward Unity” published in Volume 1 Issue 3 of Cadmus

About the Author(s)

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.