Building a Culture of Peace
November 3, 2008
In this segment, Former UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury talks about the challenge of building a sustainable world peace and the struggles facing developing nations.
4 Minutes 58 Seconds
In "Agents of Change," hear from students, faculty, and distinguished guests as they talk about their work in helping to educate and transform the global community.
This is Sarah Sumler, a Multilingual Journalism Major at Lehman College. In this segment, Former UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury talks about the challenge of building a sustainable world peace and the struggles facing developing nations. Ambassador Chowdhury is currently teaching an honors seminar at Lehman focusing on the "culture of peace." In his distinguished diplomatic career, Ambassador Chowdhury has also served as the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, President of the UN Security Council, President of the Executive Board of UNICEF, and Vice President of the UN's Economic and Social Council. He has received the U Thant Peace Award and UNESCO's Gandhi Gold Medal for the Culture of Peace.
ANWARUL K. CHOWDHURY:
Culture of peace has to be seen as a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors. Which-- ensures that-- we give respect-- to-- diversity. We have tolerance, understanding. We have a spirit of solidarity for the rest of the world.
We also want to ensure that peace is not only seen as an absence of war. It has to be much more than that. It has to create-- a peaceful, nonviolent society. Where people are ensured human security in addition to security living in a state. One of the things which works against both individual and societal peace is poverty.
Peace and development are two sides of the same coin. One is not possible, or not achievable, without the other. Poverty generates-- conflict. Generates violence. Generates dissatisfaction. Generates-- feelings of anger and discrimination. So all these things are necessary to be addressed, if we are talking about the culture of peace.
And, of course, we-- we emphasize, in this context, the element of human rights. Peace and security, development and human rights are the three key elements which are needed for really a peaceful world.
Well, if you are talking about the-- the world's most vulnerable countries. I was Under-Secretary-General, a high representative of the United Nations responsible for these weakest segments of humanity.
Their biggest problem is the indifference of the world to them. They are powerless, voiceless-- Many of them do not have strategic relevance for the world's power configuration. And the 50 poorest countries of the world have a population of 800 million.
And, of course, there are other structural difficulties for these countries. Many of them are from their colonial past. Many of those come out of their being in conflict, or coming out of conflict. And some of them are getting close to a conflict.
Globalization can only work when everybody has a level playing field. That everybody has the equal opportunity, and equal economic, and political and social strength to take advantage of globalization. And as the globalization is moving at a fast pace, these countries are really falling behind. Some of them have taken advantage of technology to move ahead. They are trying very hard. But not making much progress in terms of benefiting from globalization. As nations, as countries, recent increases in food prices have really put these countries behind again.
So it is very important that there should be a special window for these countries. Window of opportunity. And there should be a safety net for these countries. So that they do not hold back farther, as the volatile world situation -- economic and social situation -- continues.
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