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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 31 New Delhi July 23, 2016

Why Increasing Violence Needs a New, Fresh Approach to Find Durable Solutions

Tuesday 26 July 2016, by Bharat Dogra

As the entire world grows increasingly concerned about the rising toll of many-sided violence, three regions have emerged as the biggest areas of concern—West Asia, North Africa and South Asia. In all these three areas, the existing violence is very troubling but the potential of escalation is even more worrying.

Another common factor in these three regions is that while several peace efforts have been made, the overall impact appears to be of one step forward, two steps backward. So some refreshingly new approaches, which can go beyond the previous efforts, are badly needed.

More specifically, two possibilities need careful attention. First, we badly need strong and broad-based citizens’ peace movements which must operate on a continuing basis (and not just during crisis periods). These need to get some recognition and support from the region’s governments while retaining their autonomy and freedom, and they need some recognition and support from the various agencies of the United Nations as well, again without sacrificing their freedom.

Secondly, various countries of these regions need to draw up Unions of Nations and all or most countries of the region can become members of these nations on the basis of equality of all member-nations as well as acceptance of equality and equal rights of all citizens of these nations.

The formation of a Union of Nations should be based on a guarantee that there’ll be no war among these nations and no nation will incite or initiate any violence in any other member-country. However, help for reducing violence will be available. Secondly, all nations will cooperate to reduce all kinds of narrow sectarian violence based on religious or ethnic identities, while initiating joint efforts to promote social harmony at all levels. Thirdly, all nations will cooperate to reduce poverty, deprivation, ecological ruin and disaster-related distress, while promoting decentralised development initiatives in all areas including the most remote and neglected ones.

The formation of such unions will help to overcome the long-festering problems created by previous colonial regimes which formed artificial boundaries and divided people on the basis of various narrow identities.

The peace efforts initiated so far appear to have missed the big issues while spending a lot of time on endeavours to tackle the symptoms rather than the basic causes. New, fresh approaches are needed before it is too late. The increasing threats of climate change, various disasters and proliferation of most destructive weapons have increased greatly the imperative need for peace and stability.

Bharat Dogra is a free-lance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.

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