ROLE OF YOUTH IN PROMOTING PEACE
Paper Presented to the Conference on
ROLE OF YOUTH IN PROMOTING PEACE
"Dyauh Santiantariksam santih prthivi santirapah santirosadhayah santih.
"May the sky be peaceful and peace giving; may the mindspace be peaceful; may the earth be peaceful; may the waters be peaceful; may the annual plants be peaceful; may the forest be peaceful; may all the bounties of nature be peaceful; may there be peace, and peace only; may such a peace come to all."
"There is no way to peace, peace is the way."
1. The modern world is becoming smaller, highly integrated and technologically more advanced. It is also becoming highly fragmented, less peaceful and unsafe for both present and future generations. We are led to believe that globalization and the Internet links have made the world smaller a village indeed, facilitating the exchange of information and knowledge, and, creating an exponential leap in the generation of global wealth. This wealth creation process however, has failed to fulfill aspirations of the youth and bring prosperity and peace to the large majority of people living in many parts of the world. Once Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly". UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says that, "In this new era, people's actions constantly if often unwittingly affect the lives of others living far away. Globalization offers great opportunities, but at present its benefits are very unevenly distributed while its costs are born by all." He emphasizes six shared values, which are of particular relevance to the new century: freedom; equity and solidarity; tolerance; non-violence; respect for nature and shared responsibility. Among many forms of globalization, there is a more subtle form of globalization, which presents opportunities for greater tolerance in the human dimension this is the globalization of socioeconomic culture and values.
2. Advancements in science and technology over the last five decades have revolutionized the entire world. Investments in research and development have resulted in innovations and inventions in both product and factor markets. The benefits of these advancements however, have yet to reach the poor living in many countries across the world. Poverty is on the increase and we are sitting on dozens of human landmines. The world today is passing through an environment full of tensions, violence, declining values, injustice, reduced tolerance and respect for human rights. The gun culture has already taken a dominant position in most of the developing countries, threatening the future of the youth who deserve a peaceful and better quality of life. There is a greater need to create a culture of peace in society through participation of the youth. Therefore it is imperative that the culture of peace must be established; and we start with the hypothesis that it is not been inherited. Adult leaders, parliamentarians and policymakers, at community, municipality, state, national, and international levels should agree that they are responsible for ensuring that the 21st century is characterized as a century of peace.
II. FROM CONFLICT TO PEACE
3. If we look into ancient history, the facts tell us that wars were fought for territorial gains. Then the cause of religion appeared, and there were violent religious wars because they all wanted to expand in the name of God or Allah. Then it became ideological with wars between socialist and capitalist states, resulting in colonial subjugation of millions of the poor. Dictatorships were manifestations of these political forces they were against the nature of human beings. Now the world is passing through another period of tension economic. However, the other areas of tension are still in ferment their roots have not been expunged. Today, there are territorial attempts, religious conflicts, people power revolutions, and civil unrest in countries of the Middle East; Eastern Europe; as well as in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The problem of accounting for domestic political conflict particularly in developing countries, has become an important global issue.
4. Military expenditures are on the increase, costing too much, even mindlessly. In the mid-1990s, the known military expenditure was US$800 billion each year, or $145 per person worldwide, which has increased due to expanding conflicts in various parts of the world and use of modern technologies. Had there been global peace, during the same period, by the year 2000, the accumulated total in savings, or what is termed peace dividends, could have been about $1,491 billion, which could have been diverted to reduce poverty or promote human development. The armament trade thrives on war. For armament manufacturers, peace means bankruptcy. If there is no war, they must make one by spreading poisonous propaganda, or keeping up the threat of war in various parts of the world so that countries will be forced to spend vast sums on armament procurement to be prepared for eventualities. The opportunity costs involved here are very high. For example, in the case of Sri Lanka, it has been estimated that the foregone investment loss, loss of tourism, increased military spending, and the loss of manpower due to death and immigration and other related costs of the war amounts to 200 percent of the country's gross national product (GDP) in 1999. It has been estimated that at peace, Sri Lanka could maintain 8 percent growth rate and absorb 140,000 job seekers that enter the labor market every year.
5. In the today's world wars between states have become less frequent. Most of today's wars are civil wars, and often one region of a country is involved against another. About three-quarters of the war dead are civilians. In the last decade internal wars or conflicts have claimed more than 5 million lives, and driven many times that number of people from their homes. Conflicts are most frequent in poor countries, especially in those that are ill governed. It is part of the tragedy of poor countries that fighting forces can recruit volunteers among the impoverished youth, the miserable, the starving, and the youth with no future prospects, with no hope and no reason for hope. Youth are unfortunate instruments in these conflicts because of circumstances beyond their control, like lack of access to basic social services such as education and health, unemployment, and uncertain future. The best way to prevent them is to promote healthy and balanced economic and social development, combined with human rights and political arrangements in which all groups are fairly represented and supported by good governance. In the midst of these uncertainties, people are now realizing the value of "peace dividends", particularly some of the leaders. War will come to an end only when its causes are addressed.
III. THE PEACE PARADIGM
6. In many recent conflicts, there have been clear signs of a 'cycle' of violence from one generation to another. The major challenge before the international community is how to break such cycles and construct a sustainable world society. Efforts both at national and international levels in creating a world society free of war have so far achieved a little success. Peace building in a post-war world has to take place within an integrative framework, which recognizes the coexistence of various contributory factors including the role of youth. One of such integrative approach, is schematically portrayed in Figure 1. It recognizes Gandhian philosophy of non-violence. Gandhi's teaching on ahimsa (non-violence) advocate the concept that all living beings are ultimately one. Himsa against a living being is himsa against oneself. Himsa against a living being makes complete self-realization impossible. These concepts need to be inculcated and promoted at individual, society and organizational level in making effective peace-building efforts. A complete success and sustainability of peace building is a function of youth participation.
7. A starting point for peace building is what we term human development indicators or other measurements of longevity, competency, or purchasing power developed by international agencies and donor institutions. Undoubtedly the existing database on these indicators is detailed and comprehensive enough to address development related issues on comparative basis. However, they do not have human face. Such human indicators should be applied first and foremost to the face of the mother and the child in all this vast mountain of statistics and data, in order to get to the real meaning of development. The mother is the originator of peace. She gives birth to peace or war. In poor countries, mothers face all sorts of problems - no proper nourishment, they work hard, there are no health services at time of birth, and husbands make unrelenting demands and treat them like slaves. This affects the psychology not only of the mother, but the psychology of the child developing in the womb during prenatal development. The proposed peace paradigm is therefore founded on the concept of peace starting with the conception of child. We must work to make the mother and child look at the world as positive and worthwhile. We must accept that children are an asset of the nation. To make this asset productive, invest in the mother and child. The seeds of tolerance must first be sown right into the minds and hearts of children. As they grow into youthhood, let us nurture in them respect for existence of individuals of whatever religion, or ethnic group or nation, gender or color, or socioeconomic standing or political beliefs. The period 15 to 25 years is the golden period of life, which has been defined as youth. This is where the seeds of peace must be sown vigorously.
8. It starts with the immediate family. For children and youth, the family must be perceived as a place of assured safety, close relationship, of mutual concern, and a unit of active participation in village and community activities. If the culture of peace is developed at the family level, then it develops more effectively at the community and village/municipal levels, and upwards. Beyond the family, the school can become a platform for communities to bring the concept and practice of peace into the curriculum, classroom, and co-curricular programs. The youth can be empowered through community organizations, either spiritual, social or related to environment, or any development activities with the concept of peace interwoven.
9. Peace is love, love that is nurtured in the wombs of the mother. The first step is the careful nurturing and caring for women. When properly supported, the mother is the great development agent for peace. Mother, as an agent for peace, controls but never controls strictly; she nurtures but never spoils; she's democratic but not with abandonment; she is fair but has no favorites; she protects the family but not with excessive protection. They are the shapers of the leaders and followers of society. Historically speaking, most of the violent actions (including wars) were started by male or under male leadership. Encouragement to female leadership could be one important step towards achievement of a peace culture.
10. The second is to reduce the poverty among the disadvantaged, who make about 40 percent of the population of the world. Poverty is the major deterrent to the poor to have the capacity to decide for themselves and to significantly share in the use of resources. The poor are the victims of war, of violence, of social crime and disease, and eventually get sucked into the maelstrom by being part of the chaos.
11. The third is human development as a pragmatic and innovative way towards peace: human development can come in a diversity of ways such as education, training, social mobilization, large-scale skills training, skillful use of mass media and information technology, etc. Peace in the education curriculum is, sad to say, not prevalent in most of the countries in the world. And the fourth parameter is the effective democratic governance of society and its populace in ways which allow maximum participation by the citizenry, transparency of decisions, commitment to accountability of public servants, consistency of policy and programs, and productive dedication to public welfare by the politicians and lawmakers. The critical missing link is what I call the peace capital, denoting a society of moral virtues, ethical values; its spirituality, and its propensity for anti-war and anti-violence positions. The school can be the platform for peace development, which should permeate the entire curriculum. This can lead to behavioral change favorable to deep tolerance of various differences among people, higher frustration maintenance point, actions to ensure preventive peace rather than the eruption of violence which must then be quelled or resolved, and tendency towards social cohesion. It clears the mind of trivial prejudices and assures trust and confidence from youth to youth. It is my vision that peace is and must be the creed of the 21st century.
IV. CULTURE OF PEACE AND YOUTH
12. Peace is a state of mind, which allows the individual to operate optimally and freely. Pre-conditions include: firstly, there should be absence of constraints, which affect peoples' freedom. These constraints could include religious, political, economic, social, technological and cultural factors. Secondly, there must be opportunity for the individual to grow in body and mind, in emotions and spirituality, in isolation and in communion with others. Today's people are broken up from within, and this inner disintegration is reflected in the disorganized state of human system at all levels. I would call it a society in which people live a life of spiritual poverty. The concept and practice of peace must resolve and permeate several layers of special units. First is the individual, then the family, followed by the community, nation and finally the international community.
13. In a world where many regions suffer from increasing tensions, conflicts, and violence, making peace a tangible reality is of critical importance. The current culture of violence based on distrust, suspicion, intolerance, injustice, hatred, and the inability to interact constructively with all those who are different, must be replaced by a new culture based on non-violence, tolerance, mutual understanding, solidarity, and the ability to solve disputes and conflicts peacefully. The world today is indeed in search of a new culture and a common system of values and new behavioral patterns for individuals, groups and nations, because, without them, the major problems of international and internal peace cannot be solved. The concept of "Vashudev Kutumbakam" i.e. the boundaries of the self are extended to include the world as one's family. Such a view promotes fellow feeling and kindles a deep desire to live together peacefully. People exist anthropologically not in their isolation but in the completeness of relation among themselves. Relationship of mutuality is precondition for the establishment of peace culture. We cannot achieve full humanity unless we respect the other person. It paves the way for a tolerant and peaceful society.
14. In the modern world the process of transition towards democracy is one of the important factors in the construction of a culture of peace. Peace culture is a multi-faceted concept, which has been buried in an environment of conflict, violence, ethnic tension, and war. Peace has psychological, sociocultural, ethnic, economic, and politically strategic dimensions. The culture of peace should be understood as the creation of peaceful, non-violent behavioral patterns and attitudes. The main indispensable values on which a peace culture can be built may be grouped around such key notions as justice, tolerance, human rights, democracy, development, non-violence, and peaceful resolution of conflicts. The replacement of the existing culture of violence by a culture of peace can only be achieved in a longer perspective. In a period of transition and accelerated change marked by the expression of intolerance, manifestation of racial and ethnic hatred, spread of fundamentalism, the upsurge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, violence towards those regarded as "others" and the growing disparities between the rich and the poor action strategies must aim both at ensuring fundamental freedom, peace, human rights, and democracy and at promoting sustainable and equitable economic and social development all of which have an essential part to play in building a culture of peace.
15. What do we expect from the youth with the creation of the culture of peace? The youth with their new ideas, new energy, and neutral background, can contribute to peace development. They are ready to participate in community work. To create the conducive environment, one step is to make sure that national policies are religion-neutral, with no place for phrases like jihad. Youth should be treated as partners partnership by youth in all social activities, of governance, community activities should start in an active manner with the entry of the child into the golden age phase of 15 to 25 years. Youth should realize that they should not wait for the inheritance of the world; they must realize they have already inherited the world while entering into the golden age. Development of youth as productive citizens and peace workers could be a starting point for developing the peace culture.
V. THE GLOBAL YOUTH SCENARIO
16. In the world today, one person in five is between the ages of 15 to 25, which is an accepted UN definition of the age that defines youth. There are altogether more than one billion youth, constituting a formidable force. About 85 percent live in developing countries with 60 percent in Asia, or about 800 million youth in the Asian region. Moreover, two thirds of these youth are growing in countries, which have extremely low per capita incomes (PCIs), below the PCI of $700 per annum. The needs and aspirations of young people are still mostly unmet. The youth employment and livelihood problem is particularly acute and growing in the developing countries while the bulk of corporate resources are controlled by developed countries. Moreover, action on youth employment and livelihood remain poorly defined. Poverty breeds an environment, which encourages social deviations like drug-addiction, excessive smoking, alcoholism, and tendencies towards suicide. Most problems among youth in developing countries are nurtured by their perception of an uncertain and unstable future. However, one thing is clear among all youth: that they want to make something of themselves, and to sustain the value of family solidarity. Today's youth are often skeptical about adult leaders and they may express the desire to participate in society through volunteer work but not in politics. Alienated youth, particularly when they form a large proportion of the population, will turn their energy to drugs, crime, violence and even revolution. Unengaged youth represent a wasted economic resource.
17. Youth of today is in search of its identity. They are less inclined towards conflicts and wars unless external forces compel them to do so. International studies clearly indicate that today's youth are concerned about issues relating to family, education and employment. The youth express their need for a sense of independence, competence, and participation in the mainstreams of society. They should be perceived as key agents for social change, including peace development, economic development and technological innovation. The paradox is that even as they represent society's greatest hope, they are a group which risk an uncertain and unstable future. How to involve these young men and women in building and designing their future, and the future of coming generations, is the key issue confronting the progress of our societies.
VI. PEACE POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIES
18. If we examine the statements on governance of various governments in terms of their policies or mechanisms, we will find there is no specification on "peace" it is mostly absent in their education policies and programs. Countries should formulate national policies on peace development. The United Nations, through its General Assembly and world conferences of Ministries of Youth, has passed several declarations regarding youth development, covering promotion of ideals of peace, mutual respect, and international understanding. However, these declarations have not been translated into national policies by member countries although in almost every country there is a Youth Ministry or Department, supported with limited resources.
19. At the UN General Assembly, there have been four major strategic declarations addressing peace development issues:
20. These declarations are signed by UN members. But the experience since 1965 indicates that governments and their Ministers sign these documents as a matter of routine, and without commitment. At the Lisbon Declaration, the Ministries of Youth Services from the UN member-countries agreed to avoid lip service declared: "We will therefore agree on the following: to invite all relevant UN programs, Funds and specialized agencies and other bodies within the UN system, in particular the UN Development Program, UN Population Fund, UN Children's Fund, UNESCO, World Health Organization, International Labor Organization, World Bank, and Intergovernmental organizations and regional financial institutions to give greater support to national youth pollicies and programs within their country programs." This will bring the donor community to support development of peace policies and related actions and provide resources for their implementation as part of national developmental interventions. All programs of multi-donor activities as part of development intervention must support not only development of programs and actions plans but also implementation of peace policies through participation of youth. Moreover, two movements globalization and information communication technology (ICT) are making the world become smaller. ICT has become, despite its inaccessibility to the poor and rural areas, a method for easier access to acquire information, and will sooner than we think, influence youth development in terms of aspirations, employment and income opportunities, as well as the darker side of the world, such as social diseases like drug addiction, sexual abuse, and anger in the streets. This uncontrollable scenario of impacts will come from globalization and ICT violence if effective efforts for youth development are not initiated urgently.
21. The world today stands at a crossroad. However, the path of peace ahead remains clear for the world if we pursue three goals: firstly, a common vision of our future society anchored on peace; secondly, the core of shared values that animate our desires and preferences, grounds for peace which is acceptable to all religions, peoples, nations, families and communities; and thirdly, the power for united venture that brings people-empowered action for the attainment of a peace vision guided by the values we cherish. The peace factor must be used to resolve prime issues such as: (i) the persistent poverty of people, especially those in rural areas; (ii) the social injustice that continues to prevail in our societies and the often divisive, and counter-productive ways of governance. The index to development, therefore, must be human in dimension, content and lifestyle anchored on peace.
22. Undergirding these strategies and action is the need for each government to adopt a National Peace Policy; and parallel with this, a National Peace Development Policy for Youth. This should be on the basis of a review of the country's constraints and achievements of peace development and democratic activities, youth's aspirations and the prospects for future action. Its foundation will be tolerance in every sphere of human activity religious, moral, ethnic, political, socioeconomic, cultural, political/government, military, and international. Tolerance of the highest level will mark a new era in human development, laying the groundwork for peace in which youth involvement will be the resource base and its most dynamic element. Peace will build the democratic processes and peoples' institutions. Reduced militarism, freedom from violence and disequilibrium, promotion of the positive and ideal aspects of life, nurturing of spiritual and moral values, sharing and participation in problem-solving and decision-making these are the desired outputs of peace policy. Peace will facilitate the concentration of energies and resources to violence-free areas of development, facilitating the setting of priorities by governments, enabling the youth to mobilize properly, and to direct available finances from local and external resources to such strategic options. The channeling of resources to non-military areas will generate a "peace dividend" so urgently needed in the world today. Peace development programs provide the huge canvas and at the same time is an integral part of economic and social change. Peace development education should be part of the national education policy.
23. In the case of the National Peace Development Policy for Youth, we must deviate from tradition and formulate policy with the active participation of the youth. In this case, policy definition and strategy have to be applied flexibly by involving and energizing the youth right from the very start. It should not begin with elders and senior policy-makers and leaders, but take grassroots hold with the youth from day one. The youth must be empowered to find their own niche and roles in the totality of national development, and be the major force for peace development. All steps in the exercise should be taken in consultation with the different levels of participating youth from the national down to the state, district, municipal and village levels.
24. What are the main ingredients of a peace strategy for, by and of the youth? They are few and simple. Starting with the mother and the child in her womb as early a start as possible, and then working through school, the village, community, town, municipality, state, nation and globally. The values are respect for each other, for each other's religion, for human rights, for each other's beliefs and convictions, and giving support to an environment of equality. Families which can be defined as micro-communities, are the vital cells (or subsystems) of our world. They too are confronted by violence, social injustice and complexities planet-wide. In this sense, education of the youth globally could be a significant step towards a peaceful, just tomorrow. This would empower youth with the necessary ideals, ideas, tools and psycho-behavioral techniques in dealing with violence-free democracies and cope with environments immersed in peace. In the Third World especially, such peaceful environments are unheard of, given their poverty, diseases and hunger.
VII. PREPARING PEACE WORKERS
25. The general view that people are the source of all evil, including war, has a long tradition, and forces us to ask the question: are human beings capable of peace? This is the traditional view and it has been advocated by several philosophers. However, contemporary research does not confirm this thesis. Violence does not appear either as part of our evolutionary legacy or in our genes. It is in our sociological and cultural roots. Individuals are normally ready to adapt to their environment and under normal circumstances prefer cooperation to aggressiveness, non-violence to violence. A culture of peace is intimately linked with a culture of rights and democracies. Peace cannot be preserved if the basic rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups are violated and when discrimination and exclusion generate conflict. Education is at the heart of any strategy for construction of a culture of peace. It is through education that the broadest possible introduction can be provided to the values, skills, and knowledge that form the basis of respect for peace, human rights and democratic principles. Studies by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNAIDS agree that there are five major strategies to promote youth quality of life: creation of a safe and supporting environment; providing information through ICT and social marketing; building skills; providing counseling; and improving health services.
26. People are not a social being until they relate with other fellow beings. In this sense, it is the community that nurtures the social economic-cultural and political values of the family and the individual. Similarly, it is the community that represents the amalgam of these social units and forms, with other communities, into the social state we call the state. And it is this community of nations, with their diverse cultures and environments that comprise the international community of nations. There is a need to create a climate of free will, by equipping youth with necessary skills and competencies to enable them to effectively participate in peace development activities. Traditionally, youth development issues were thought of as the responsibility of government (particularly education and training, and fiscal and monetary policy) and civil society (particularly families and increasingly NGOs). The changed scenario demands development of fundamentally new frameworks and strategies for youth development. Today more than ever we have greater capacity globally to address youth development issues supported by our financial resources and skills which are greater than ever before.
27. Youth constitutes the richest wealth of a country. They develop quality of catholicity of personal integrity, personal discipline and open mindedness. It is enriched further when they develop an open attitude and universal outlook. As youth is a period of passions, emotions, activity and vigor, they should be trained to combine enthusiasm with patience. Youth should develop an open attitude and universal outlook. This is the real empowerment of youth. Empowering or enabling is like a process similar to teaching and fishing. For preserving peace, youth must play a decisive role. Youth should be exposed to merit of tolerance and nonviolence. Youth should realize the importance of living together and should be responsible to defend the frontiers of peace and non-violence.
28. Without an environment of peace, appropriate direction to development of peaceful human systems cannot be pursued. Its beginnings must be in education and training. Peace Development Education refers to a participatory-directed program within and between human systems, such as individual, family, community, country, and the world community of nations. It is characterized by spiritual growth, ecological balance, decreased violence (which is not limited to physical but includes economic, technological, structural, political, social and ideological forms), and increased cooperation, justice and equity leading to self-reliance, especially on the part of the youth. Peace development education aims at capability building, so as to empower people to directly engage and plan, on their own, in peace development.
29. Participation in peace development education aims at the fundamental reorganization of our inner map of reality: away from fear, distrust and hostility toward a change in the way we perceive our relationships with others and ourselves, and. Peace development requires the creation and nurturing of a shared image of the global human future free from religious, cultural, economic, ethnical and sex consideration, and which maintains and respects the diversity of our varied cultural and social systems. Peace development education brings together multiple traditions of pedagogy, theories of education, and international initiatives for the advancement of human development through learning and experience. It is fundamentally dynamic, interdisciplinary and multicultural. To be a feasible proposition, it has to be mapped into all human systems from the individual through the family, on to the global human communities, wrapped in care, love and peace. It has to be integrated with each and every dimension of human life including social, political, economic justice, self-realization for self-reliance, social and ecological ethics lending to self-directed evolution of our human system.
30. Educational experiences should be provided to youth with an objective to enhance their tolerance level and help them understand the merits of tolerance and respect for "otherness". "Respecting the others" goes much farther than tolerance. Education must promote an aptitude of free inquiry, frank and vigorous discussion and willingness to work in teams. Education should teach the youth not only to tolerate differences but also to respect differences. In a more meaningful way, peace development can also become essential curriculum content at all levels of education. Peace education should focus on development of skills, attitudes, and knowledge with cooperative and participatory learning methods and environment of tolerance, care, and respect. The practice of peace development education is an opportunity to promote the welfare of students, advocate for the just and equitable treatment of youth, and promote individual and social responsibility for both educators and learners. The curriculum should teach, in an experiential and participatory manner using a variety of examples, the positive and non-violent resolution of conflict. Peace therefore is not the absence of conflict, but the absence of violent resolution of conflict, for conflict comes in ever-changing forms. In a peace curriculum, all need to be taught about all levels of conflicts and crisis, including the levels of the personal, interpersonal, family, community, national and international. This collective consciousness, the "awareness of awareness", can only be achieved through strong and vigorous peace development education involving all peoples, from leaders to the poor. Magnus Haavelsrud (Norwegian peace educator) says, "There are no simple answers to how education can contribute towards disarmament and development. But increasing awareness through education seems to be a way towards the kind of mobilization that is necessary." The school can be a starting point organizing peace-development courses and programs that can eventually permeate all other curricula. However, it should be emphasized that peace education does not teach students what to think, but rather how to think critically. Peace education aims not to reproduce but to transform. John Dewey in his book, "Democracy and Education" stated that education consists of people "consciously striving to educate their successors not for the existing state of affairs but so as to make possible in future better humanity".
31. Any program in peace education must develop an understanding among the youth (who will take the leadership tomorrow) on human systems, their environments, and their interactions between and among themselves. This approach will enable them to understand the interconnectedness between their local programs and the large socioeconomic and politico-technical issues and the need for cooperation between and among various human systems for long-lasting integrated solutions. This program should also help them to perceive situations (programs and complexities) from a world view with its different values, beliefs, attitudes and aspirations, and from there develop effective skills to communicate and to coordinate their inter-personal understanding across various barriers. The youth trained through this program should be able to provide leadership for global consciousness-raising, which is basic to the development of continuing world peace. Peace workers will represent the new professionals of the 21st century, as valued as ICT professionals, NGO specialists, international development specialists. The universalization of peace development should be a priority goal of the leadership in the 21st century.
32. In spiritual development, the youth can form a new phalanx of peace missionaries building up volunteers and NGO networks in the grassroots, concentrating on values education and spiritual renewal among children, women and the youth to reverse the process of family values in which traditionally it is the elders who impose on the youth; this time it will be the young helping shape family values through dedicated youth peace missionaries. This is one area where I would give particular emphasis. Religious teachings should be based on respect for all religions so that there is no compulsion in pursuing a certain religion. We should not forget that with a humane approach of tolerance, religious self-proclaimed pundits should lose their appeal. Human features of religion based on socioeconomic egalitarianism, tolerance towards the minorities and universal brotherhood should be brought to play to establish secular democratic systems. India is an example of the largest secular democracy which demonstrated its "secular credentials" by selecting its National Presidents from minority communities and promoting professionals from minority communities to the top positions of the Supreme Court, Ministry of Justice, Army Chief, and sensitive research programs. Such an approach will strengthen the fundamentals of peace and of peaceful co-existence of various religious and ethnical groups.
33. In the area of ethnic development, the youth of different ethnic groups can forge links between cultural minorities and popularize shared values, shared religious values, and shared cultures and traditions handed down from generation to generation. In political development, youth can be trained to form the cadre of youth animators to expose the rural poor to democratic processes and institutions, to consensus building and voting mechanics, to party and government platforms. In socioeconomic development, the youth can join internship/training programs with agricultural, manufacturing, and service industries, sharpen their skills to become the forward-looking manpower needed by their country to help their economies compete favorably against international competition. In political/government area development, the youth can engage in internships in the parliamentary institutions, join in political awareness-building, reform political parties and remove the ugliness of partisan politics, and at the same time force reforms in the bureaucracy to ensure good governance, accountability, transparency, and citizenry participation. E-government strategy can effectively support such programs. In military affairs, the youth can become the country's elite guards dedicated to patriotism, protection of children, women, oppressed and poor, and, through collective vigilance and closeness with the people, provide the moral counterpart to the abuses of ambitious generals and military demagogues. Finally, in regional and international development, the youth can become peace ambassadors of their respective countries, promoting exchange programs in education, culture, science and technology, sports and games, and in tourism promotions, to link all the youth of the region and the world in the pursuit and maintenance of peace and democracy. I propose that this conference may consider establishment of an internet based "Asian Youth Peace Development Forum" and an "Asian Institute of Peace and Democracy Development Studies" to ensure that the recommendations of the conference are implemented and peace worker development program become a reality. The Conference may also consider setting up of a Task Force to mobilize resources through national, bilateral and multilateral sources to finance the proposed initiatives.
VIII. YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN PEACE DEVELOPMENT
34. In many countries, there are Ministries or Departments of Youth. The youth are hardly involved in the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of the policies and programs of these Ministries. This is the main reason why youth empowerment programs do not become sustainable. These institutions were created on paper by the elders, policy-makers, politicians bureaucrats from their own point of view not bending backward to get the suggestions of youth on matters which directly affect their future.
35. Declaration after declaration has been enunciated and eventually failed. A major reason is that the declarations are not supported by the institutional infrastructure and resources to ensure their efficient implementation and evaluation. In this proposal, the national peace policy is the basis for the required infrastructure. I propose within the scope of international agreements, and in contrast to the reality of dismal implementation of the past, an operative system of youth peace development forums beginning at the school/community level then upwards in a participatory manner to the national forum. Their planning, membership, policy framework, programs and activities shall be initiated, led, and implemented by the youth, supported by adults and community leaders.
36. Youth leadership activities cannot be confined to schools. They should be exposed to the real sociopolitical environment. That is missing today. In addition to peace development, these youth forums should, from time to time, include planning and implementation of environmental programs, family planning, information technology, health and sanitation, etc. Forum participants should focus on the benefits of peace, non-violence to strengthen tolerance through participation in community fairs or anniversaries in which all can participate (e.g., during Christmas, Christians and Moslems can congregate and share, etc.), thereby fostering a culture of peace and tolerance through a system of community education in order to promote respect and mutual understanding.
38. The new millenium offers the world's people a unique opportunity to reflect on their common destiny, at a moment when they find themselves interconnected as never before. In this New World, groups and individuals interact directly across the frontiers more often, without involving the state. This also has its dangers in terms of crime, narcotics, terrorism, weapons, refugees and migrants; all move back and forth faster and in greater numbers than in the past. But new technologies also create opportunities for mutual understanding and common action. If we are to get the best out of globalization and modern technologies as well as avoid the worst, we must learn to govern better with emphasis on good governance and strengthening of civil society, and how to govern better together. People are looking to their leaders to identify and act on the challenges ahead.
39. The youth are important assets of any nation, making up 800 million of Asia's population. They should be the primary concern of political leaders, religious leaders, policy makers, planners, administrators and others interested in development including peace development. The youth are creative and innovative. They are in a better position to introduce new dimensions contributing to the current sociopolitical-economic dialogue particularly in the area of peace development. Hence, the national governments should give priority to the UN declarations of National Peace Policies and Action Programs. These policies, I propose, should not be for ornamental purposes, but should be taken into serious consideration while designing development policies and implemented through youth participation. National governments should provide adequate resources to support the youth in terms of health, education, skills development, cultural affairs, social welfare and community development programs. The national governments should ensure that appropriate measures are taken at the national level down to the grassroots level with a clear focus on youth expectations and aspirations. This should be guided by historical lessons of violent events, which happened in various countries but led to peace and democracy. It is high time for developing countries to get together and prepare national peace policies and peace development education programs.
40. Nations are underdeveloped for many reasons, but certainly the major reasons are inadequate leadership, and absence of youth participation. It is my position that the trends of the past cannot be allowed to continue into the 21st century. We must now look to the youth. The modern electronic media have an essential role to play in the preparation of youth in a spirit of peace, justice, freedom, mutual respect and understanding, in order to promote human rights, equality of rights between all human beings and all nations, and economic and social progress. Equally, they have an important role to play in making known the views and aspirations of the youth with special focus on good governance, transparency, tolerance and democracy.
41. Finally, dear Parliamentarians and Leaders, I am sure that with Asia as a big laboratory, your experience is very extensive and it is only a question of using it with commitment to peace development. We must ensure that 21st century should be a century of tolerance and peace, led by the youth. Every inhabitant of this planet should think "wherever I go, peace is with me, because without peace there is no me."
Officers of Global University System
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