Preparing for Peace
The website of the Westmorland General Meeting 'Preparing for Peace' initiative
Peace Dividend : Pathway to achieving UN Millennium Goals
M S Swaminathan
The new century and millennium have
unfortunately begun on a sad note in reference to all aspects of sustainable
human security. On the nuclear front, tensions are high in the Korean peninsula
after North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel
continues to remain an undeclared nuclear weapon state and the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is escalating in its brutality and harm to innocent
children and women. In South Asia, India and Pakistan are both nuclear weapon
states and engaged in a stand-off across their common border. India has however
announced a “no first use policy” with reference to nuclear weapons. The
US-led attack on Iraq has caused untold misery as it fuels the growing climate
of violence. The danger of highly enriched Uranium (HEU) being used by
terrorists is also increasing. There is a real danger that nuclear weapons will
once again be used in conflicts currently growing in seriousness.
2. Apart from the nuclear peril, non-traditional threats to peace and security or “threats without enemies” are increasing. Some of these are HIV/AIDS, hunger, poverty and unemployment. The UN Millennium Development Goals in the areas of hunger and malnutrition, poverty and disease are not being realised. Overseas development assistance by rich nations is going down. Poor countries are spending most of their income in repaying debts or in debt servicing. Global trade is becoming free but not fair. There is no level playing field between the rich and poor nations with reference to trade in farm and many non-farm commodities. There is co-existence of unsustainable lifestyles on the part of a billion members of the human family and unacceptable poverty on the part of another billion. Therefore, we should address the root cause of anger and terrorism and promote a hunger and poverty-free world as well as a Global Convention on Human Diversity on the model of the Global Convention on Biological Diversity. Such a Convention on Human Diversity should promote love and understanding of diversity in religion, language, colour, gender, ethnicity and political belief. Only then, we will be able to eradicate the root cause of terrorism and lay the foundation for a nuclear and bio-peril-free world.
Russell, who along with Albert Einstein founded the Pugwash Movement once said,
“war does not determine who is right – only who is left”. The root cause
of our problem today lies in the growing mismatch between technological progress
and ethical and spiritual evolution. In 1946, a year after the use of atom bombs
on the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Albert Einstein remarked, “The
unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, but not our modes of
thinking, and we thus drift towards unparalleled catastrophe”. Unfortunately,
57 years later we find humankind is again on the road to unparalleled
catastrophes. It is however never late to change course, see reason and seek
enlightenment. Mahatma Gandhi urged humankind, a month before his assassination,
“Forget the past. Remember every day dawns for us from the moment we wake up.
Let us all, everyone, wake up now”.
3. After World War II,
there was optimism that a new global human order based on non-violence, ethics
and equity would emerge though the instruments of the United Nations. FAO was
confident that “Food for All” need not be an elusive goal. WHO was confident
that “health for all” is achievable. Similarly, UNESCO believed that
“literacy for all” would become a basic human right. All these now find a
place in UN’s Millennium Development Goals, since we are far from achieving
4. The United Nations
itself through its Security Council was confident that all differences among
Member States could be solved peacefully and amicably. In fact, the 1945
constitution of UNESCO States, “since wars begin in the minds of men, so it is
in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”. The
pathways to lasting peace are enshrined in the writings of Dr Daisaku Ikeda. Why
then do we witness today a growing violence in the human heart? Let us analyse
the forces that unite and divide us.
5. Among the unifying
forces, the most important one is ecology. The Brundtland Commission on
Environment and Development titled its report, “Our Common Future”, to
underline that though politically our world is divided into numerous sovereign
nations, ecologically our fates are intertwined. Global warming and sea level
rise will affect all of us, irrespective of who is responsible for the growing
imbalance between carbon emissions and absorption in our planet. Another
unifying force is modern information and communication technology, which has
given meaning and content to the concept of a global village. The World Cup
Football matches were watched on the television by nearly 50% of the inhabitants
of our planet. Similarly, the World Cup Cricket matches were recently watched by
nearly 20% of the human race. Any event – happy or sad – occurring anywhere
in the world now reaches even the remotest corner of the globe.
6. In contrast to the
unifying character of ecology and informatics, developments in the areas of
economics, ethics and equity are proving to be divisive in their impact.
Economically, rich-poor divide is increasing, with over 1 billion inhabitants of
our planet living in great luxury and leading unsustainable lifestyles, while
another 3 billion are struggling to exist on a per capita income of less than 2
US dollars per day. Thus, there is widespread coexistence of conspicuous
consumption and unacceptable poverty. The equity dimension is not only important
in relation to economic well being, but is also relevant in gender terms. The
Beijing Conference on Women and Development held in 1995 and the review of the
progress made 5 years later in the United Nations have revealed that there is a
growing feminisation of poverty. Women suffer from multiple burden on their time
and are often paid less but work more. In the area of ethics, serious questions
have cropped up in fields like recombinant DNA technology, human cloning and
Intellectual Property Rights. There is a growing danger of cyber and genetic
crimes as well as technological apartheid. Scientific findings are being used to
perfect weapons of mass destruction and fear of each other is growing because of
the emergence of new methods of mass killing like the release of lethal strains
of small pox and anthrax as well as suicide bombing.
once said, “Science is but the conscience of the soul”. This is why Albert
Einstein pleaded that the products of our brain should become a blessing rather
than a curse on humankind. The first requirement for achieving such a paradigm
shift in human history is bringing about a change in the human mindset. Fear
should give way to courage and conviction. Poverty can be abolished if there is
a spurt of caring and sharing in the human mind. All of us should consider
ourselves as trustees and not owners of our intellect and surplus wealth. The
tendency to make profit out of poverty should vanish. Above all, education of
the kind fostered by the Soka University can help to stimulate the birth of an
era of spiritual enlightenment and human unity.
the pathways for achieving lasting human happiness were outlined by the small
kingdom of Bhutan when that country developed an index to measure Gross Human
Happiness. This index aims to integrate spiritual and cultural values with
the indicators used by UNDP to measure human development. Normally, economic,
social and environmental indicators are used to measure progress in human
Gandhi provided development tools which can result in a nation of happy
children, women and men. His recipe included two major approaches to
the adoption of an antyodaya principle in development programmes will
ensure that there is no social exclusion, since antyodaya involves
starting both planning and implementation projects from the poorest woman or man
one has seen (i.e., Ruskin’s, “ unto the last” concept).
second component is the principle of sarvodaya which will ensure that
there is a ‘win-win’ situation for all and that there are no winners and
losers as a result of a development programme. This will ensure a high synergy
society and lead to everyone giving his or her best for attaining the goals of
food, drinking water, health, education and work for all. This is the only way
we can avoid the further enlargement of the economic, technological and gender
divides we see today.
It is not a cliché to say that humankind is at the crossroads. In 1989
when the cold war had ended and the Berlin Wall was broken, there was hope that
we could divert a large part of the national budget from so called defence to
environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development. In fact, in the
early nineties I chaired an International Commission for Peace and Food and in
our report presented to the UN in 1994, we pointed out that uncommon
opportunities exist for a hunger-free world if only the peace dividend can be
utilised for promoting sustainable food and nutrition security in all parts of
the world. We argued that where hunger rules, peace cannot prevail.
Unfortunately, the peace dividend was never properly realized – rather the
reverse, i.e., a greater diversion of funds from development to weapons of
Let us continue to strive to make a difference to human destiny – a destiny
where the uncommon opportunities opened up by modern science and technology and
democratic systems of governance help to confer on every child, woman and man on
our planet the four freedoms which President Roosevelt advocated 60 years ago
– freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of expression and freedom of
Confronting the Challenge.
The UN Summit on Sustainable Development held at Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September 2002, had been planned originally for 2 to 11 September, but the dates were brought forward, because the11 September, 2001 marked the entry of humankind into an era where the fear of one another has reached unprecedented heights. The Johannesburg Summit convened ten years after the Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and thirty years after the first UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm 1972) took stock of the current status of our common ecological future and examined how far the concept of sustainable development has been converted from a desirable goal into practical accomplishment. Above all, it reiterated that development to be sustainable must be equitable and that there can be no bright common future for humankind without a better common present. This was also the message of the UN Social Summit held at Copenhagen in 1995.
The Stockholm Conference had resulted in the establishment of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at Nairobi, as an instrument for shaping global governance of environmental issues. Unfortunately, UNEP could not live up to its early expectations due to constraints of financial and political support. It is high time for UNEP to be developed into a World Environment Organization, on the lines of the World Trade Organization. Even if the name is not changed, UNEP’s mandate and political backing need to be enlarged, & its funding guaranteed.
Understanding and containing the growing violence in the human heart:
At Rio, several international Conventions like those relating to Climate and Biodiversity as well as an Agenda 21 containing guidelines for sustainable development were adopted. Later, a Convention on Desertification was taken up. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea also came into force in the nineties. More recently, an International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was ratified in the forum of FAO. Fortunately, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) set up just prior to Rio has been receiving good financial support and is rendering extremely valuable service. GEF has saved many biodiversity and hydrologic hotspots from total destruction and has been effectively serving as the financial mechanism for the Climate and Biodiversity Conventions.
In spite of all these positive signals, sustainable development is still a far cry, particularly if the social dimension is added to those of ecology and economics. There is a growing violence in the human heart, to some extent due to a feeling of social exclusion and injustice on the part of those who feel that they are losers in the present pattern of development. Mahatma Gandhi asked many decades ago: “How can we be non-violent to nature, if we are going to be violent to each other?” It is obvious that the principles of ethics and equity enshrined in the Convention on Biological Diversity have not been extended to human diversity. The increasing intolerance of variance and pluralism in human societies underlines the need for a Convention on Human Diversity that will help to foster understanding and appreciation of differences in terms of gender, colour, religion, languages, ethnicity, or political belief.
see today increasing conflicts in regions characterised by gross social and
economic inequity. Thousands of
young men and women in Johannesburg, as in many other cities of the world, have
no jobs and no hope for a healthy and productive life. However, they often have
guns, leading to a threatening climate of violence. Probably, more money was
spent in Johannesburg on protecting the participants than what the wealthy
nations had pledged for protecting our planet. Like other UN meetings,
Johannesburg had poverty eradication as one of its goals.
If speeches and statements had led to poverty eradication, we would not
now be witnessing the ever widening gap between rich & poor. According to
UNDP, 200 ultra-rich persons in the world currently earn more than the 2
billions living in poverty. The
Rome Plus 5 Summit held in Rome in 2002 noted with concern the very poor
progress made since 1996 in achieving the goal of reducing the number of
children, women and men going to bed hungry by 2015.
As against the target of 22 million, hardly 6 million were escaping from
the hunger trap each year. The UN
Millennium Goal of reducing poverty by half by 2015 also appears to fall under
the category of a wish list.
to biological and human heritage is also continuing unabated. Since Rio, some
highly disturbing and anti-conservation and anti-sustainable development terms
like ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘bio-piracy’, and ‘bio-terrorism’
frequently appear in the mass media. The
threat of nuclear warfare continues to loom large on the horizon, although this
had receded after the end of the Cold War and the breaking of the Berlin Wall.
While until recently the eradication of smallpox was considered a triumph of
modern immunisation technology, steps have now been taken in the United States
to inoculate several groups of professionals against smallpox as a precaution
against a possible terrorist attack. Similarly
the ‘dirty bomb’ scare has led to severe restrictions in respect of the
handling of radioactive materials in research laboratories.
Thus, the world is facing today a trilemma. Over 3 billion struggling to survive with an income of less than US $ 2 per capita per day, are crying for peace and equitable economic development. Countries in Southern Africa as well as Ethiopia, Afghanistan and North Korea have serious famines. There have been reports of children being sold for bags of wheat in Afghanistan. The Roman Philosopher Seneca said 2,000 years ago, “A hungry person listens neither to reason nor religion, nor is bent by any prayer”.
Thus, one aspect of the trilemma is the craving for peace and development which is equitable in social and gender terms. On another side, there is increasing social inequity and exclusion. The nuclear peril has again raised its head. There are over 30000 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of major and minor nuclear powers. The availability of large quantities of highly enriched uranium increases opportunities for nuclear adventurism.
The third side of the trilemma is the spectacular progress of science and technology, resulting in an increasing technological divide between industrialised and developing countries. If access to technology has been a major cause of economic inequity in the past, the challenge now lies in enlisting technology as an ally in the movement for social and gender equity.
Need for an Ethical Revolution:
Contemporary developmental challenges, particularly those relating to poverty, gender injustice and environmental degradation are indeed formidable. However, the remarkable advances now taking place in information and communication technology, space technology, biotechnology, agricultural and medical sciences, and renewable energy and clean energy technologies provide hope for a better common present and future. Genomics, proteomics, internet, space and solar technologies and nanotechnology are opening up uncommon opportunities for converting the goals of food, health, literacy and work for all into reality. It is however clear that such uncommon opportunities can be realised only if the technology push is matched by an ethical pull. This is essential for working towards a world where both unsustainable life styles and unacceptable poverty become features of the past.
Also, there is a growing mismatch between the rate of progress in science, particularly in the area of molecular biology and genetic engineering and the public understanding of its short and long-term implications. There is an urgent need for institutional structures which can inspire public confidence that the risks and benefits are being measured in an objective and transparent manner. Scientists and Technologists have a particularly vital role to play in launching an Ethical Revolution. The Pugwash movement, which I am privileged to lead, is an expression of the social and moral duty of scientists to promote the beneficial applications of their work and prevent their misuse, to anticipate and evaluate the possible unintended consequences of scientific and technological development, and to promote debate and reflection of the ethical obligations of scientists in taking responsibility for their work.
In this context, we would do well to recall what Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein said in their famous manifesto of 1955 issued on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the use of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“We appeal as human beings to human beings. Remember your humanity and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death”.
Shall we renounce war and violence as an obsolete method of settling disputes, or shall we put an end to the human civilization? This is the question facing us today. How long can we tolerate intolerance of diversity and pluralism in human societies? This is why we need a Global Convention on Human Diversity. While a Convention alone will not be able to halt the growing intolerance of diversity, particularly with reference to religion and political belief, it will help to foster a mind set which regards diversity as a blessing and not a curse. Both biodiversity and human diversity are essential for a sustainable future.
It is also necessary to reflect on methods of giving meaning and content to the ethical obligations of scientists in relation to society. The World Conference on Science held at Budapest in 1999 called for a new social contract between scientists and society. With a rapidly expanding Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) atmosphere in scientific laboratories, the products of scientific inventions may become increasingly exclusive in relation to their availability, with access being limited only to those who can afford to pay. The rich-poor divide will then increase, since orphans will remain orphans with reference to scientific attention. How can we develop a knowledge management system which will ensure that inventions and innovations of importance to human health, food, livelihood and ecological security benefit every child, woman and man, and not just the rich?
I propose that the UN should explore the possibility of establishing an International Bank for Patents for Peace and Happiness. This is a practical suggestion & not “pie-in-the-sky”. Scientists and technologists from all parts of the world should be encouraged to assign their patents to such a Bank, so that the fruits of scientific discoveries are available for public good. Such a Patents for Peace and Happiness Bank would stimulate scientists to consider themselves as trustees of their intellectual property, sharing their inventions with the poor withy whom they may make a significant difference for the better. The French Mathematician, Marquis de Condorcet, who was a contemporary of Thomas Malthus, said over 2 centuries ago that the human population will stabilise itself if children are born for happiness and not just existence. The Government of Bhutan, in fact, has taken the lead in developing a Gross National Happiness Index, based on the economics of human dignity, love of art and culture and commitment to spiritual values. Making affluent members of the human family regard themselves as trustees of their financial and intellectual property will be essential for fostering a human happiness movement. We already have many philanthropic organisations for harnessing financial resources. An organisation, under UN auspices, of an International Bank for Patents for Peace and Happiness will help scientists and technologists to practice what the great Indian spiritual and intellectual leader Swami Vivekananda advocated as the true pathway to human fulfilment.
“In this life, give everything you can – give money, give food, give love or anything else you can - but do not seek barter”.
Job-led Economic Growth:
In 1973, soon after the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, I elaborated the concept of do ecology as opposed to doom ecology in my Coromandel Lecture, “Agriculture on the Spaceship Earth”:
environmental policies advocated in the richer nations are designed to protect
the high standard of living resulting from the unprecedented growth in the
exploitation of natural resources during the last century.
It is of necessity a policy based on a series of ‘don’ts’.
The poor nations, in contrast, are faced with the desire and need to
produce more food from hungry and thirsty soils, more clothing, and more
housing. They hence need a ‘do
ecology’ and not just a ‘don’t’ philosophy.
operational terms ‘do ecology’ involves the creation of new eco-jobs.
Since eco-jobs are knowledge intensive, the knowledge era, initiated by
the digital, space and biotechnological revolutions, provides uncommon
opportunities for realising the goal of jobs for all.
Today we know that the famine of jobs or livelihood opportunities resulting in inadequate family income is the cause of the famine of food at the level of individuals. Where hunger rules, peace cannot prevail. Sustainable livelihood opportunities hold the key to both peace and progress.
our planet is politically divided by frontiers and concepts of sovereignty, our
fates are ecologically intertwined. While ecology and communications unite us,
economics is unfortunately serving as a divisive force. Trade is becoming free
but not fair. Globalisation should be designed in a ‘win-win’ mode for all
and should not result in creating a large number of losers and some winners.
This can be achieved if we make opportunities for sustainable
livelihoods/employment opportunities for youth as the yardstick for measuring
the beneficial impact of globalisation.
Jobs for all should be the bottom line of trade arrangements, including
export and import policies. WTO
should subject its agreements to a livelihood impact analysis.
Thanks to the onset of the age of innovation and invention, we have exceptional opportunities for fostering job-led economic growth. For this promise to be realised, political will and action as reflected in priorities in investment in human resource and infrastructure development are a essential. There is no single or simple solution to the problem of overcoming the growth of unemployment in the world. The problem is so vast and yet the opportunities are so great that we should foster the fusion of political will, professional skill, and national, regional and global partnerships, to achieve the goal of sustainable livelihood opportunities for all. We can learn from successes, as for example from the integrated approach to on-farm and non-farm employment adopted in China through the Rural Township Enterprises programme. The co-operative dairy movement in India, based on small-scale production and on animal nutrition - based largely on agricultural residues - is another successful example of production by masses, since it provides over 50 million women with secure livelihoods. Global, regional, and national initiatives and partnerships will be necessary to achieve a paradigm shift from jobless to job-led growth.
Youth constitutes the majority population in most developing countries. If governments acknowledge the opportunity to work and thereby earn one’s livelihood as a basic right as well as a basic prerequisite for internal and international peace and human security, they should design strategic interventions which will help to build the self-esteem and competence needed to undertake self-employment. Unity of goals, but multiplicity of approaches, are needed. The complex problem of youth employment and its multiple dimensions will have to be dealt with in a desegregated manner. For example, first generation learners (i.e., the children of illiterate parents) as well as ‘school push-outs’ (often girls) and handicapped youth will need to receive special attention. Without peace and security, there can be no progress in any field of human endeavour. Therefore, if youth employment efforts go wrong, nothing else will have the chance to go right.
suggest, therefore, a framework for generating sustainable employment and
livelihood opportunities for all. The basic strategy would include enhanced
opportunities for skilled employment in the primary, secondary, and tertiary
sectors of the economy; an integrated approach to technology, training,
techno-infrastructure, and domestic and export trade; public policies for
enlarging the space for remunerative and market-driven self-employment; and,
consortia of public and private sector companies for fostering assured marketing
opportunities through buy-back arrangements.
strategy would need to:
· promote location-specific jobs, based on the natural and human resource endowments of the area
· carry out livelihood/job impact analysis of all technology-driven development projects
· form in each compact area a “Jobs for All Consortium” consisting of appropriate representatives of government and non-government organisations, business and industry, service oriented civil society associations, women’s groups, financial institutions, bilateral and multilateral donors, and the mass media
· organise a network of training and capacity-building institutions capable of imparting market-driven skills
· develop marketing infrastructure needed to link primary producers with domestic and international consumers, and promote an Employment Infrastructure Fund as well as Venture Capital Fund for small-scale decentralised production enterprises
· encourage, whenever appropriate, a ‘production by masses’ approach, rather than ‘mass production’ and labour-displacing technologies; support such decentralised small-scale production with key centralised services in order to reduce transaction costs
· develop institutional structures which can confer the power of scale to small producers both in the production and post-production phases of the enterprise
· facilitate the organisation by young entrepreneurs of effective structures like Eco-enterprises Park, Biotechnology Parks, Food Parks, Horticulture, Poultry, and Dairy Estates, Renewable Energy Parks, etc.
· assist in creating more non-farm employment opportunities in rural areas and provide opportunities to young farm, commerce, home science, veterinary, fishing, and engineering graduates to organise socially relevant and economically viable services
· help unemployed youth to acquire the necessary self-confidence and skills to embark upon initiatives which can help to bridge the digital, genetic, gender, and other divides.
· devise short-term non-degree training programmes at appropriate universities and technical institutions to help build the capacity of youth so as to harness both traditional and frontier technologies. The aim should be to assist the country to progress rapidly in the technological transformation of crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, agro-forestry and forestry, agro-processing, and small rural and urban enterprises.
The 1987 report of the Brundtland Commission was titled Our Common Future. The period from Rio to Johannesburg has amply demonstrated that there can be no happy common future for humankind without a better common present. However, extending the extrapolation domain of successful experiences and examples will be possible only if we understand the basic principles underlying such efforts. We should emulate the example of the DNA molecule (the basic unit of heredity and life) and design programmes capable of replication, recombination (i.e., marriage of successful experiences), and mutation (mid-course correction when needed, or even total recasting of strategies where appropriate). Thus, unique successes can be converted into universal progress.
V. Peace and Sustainable Development
and security are the pre-requisites for socially, environmentally and
economically sustainable development. President
Dwight D Eisenhower, a hero of World War II, once said:
gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket signifies in the final
sense a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, from those who are cold
and are not clothed.”
world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its
labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
As I note above, the International Commission on Peace & Food, made several recommendations on the steps that need to be taken to both generate a peace dividend and use it wisely. Since many of the recommendations of ICPF are relevant to contemporary needs, it would be useful to quote some of its concrete suggestions.
Peace Dividend: A detailed plan should be drawn up by the Security Council for a further 50 per cent reduction in global defence spending by 2005, which marks the 60th anniversary of the use of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition, all nations should conduct studies of the opportunities to re-deploy resources – manpower, educational, scientific and technological, productive and organizational – controlled by the military to combat rural and urban poverty as well as national and global environmental degradation.
Nuclear Weapons: The use of nuclear weapons should be declared by the UN a crime against humanity. Based on the precedent of the Chemical Weapons Treaty, the proposal for a universal ban on the possession of nuclear weapons by any nation should be placed before the Security Council. The five permanent members should agree to the suspension of their veto power on this issue so crucial to the future of humanity. As already mentioned, this task should be achieved at least by August 2005.
Full Employment: Partial or incremental measures will not solve the growing problem of jobless economic growth in industrial nations. A radical change in values, priorities and policies – a structural adjustment – is required, based on the recognition that employment should be a fundamental right of every human being.
Comprehensive strategies coordinated among OECD countries should be implemented to increase public investment to spur economic growth, remove tax disincentives for job creation and the bias towards development of capital-intensive technologies, promote small firms, raise minimum educational and training standards, reorient social security programmes, increase labour market flexibility, and make income distribution more equitable.
One billion jobs in developing countries: A comprehensive strategy based on the promotion of commercial agriculture, agro-industries and agro-exports, improved marketing, expansion of rural enterprises and the service sector, dissemination of commercial information, extending basic education and upgrading skills can form the basis for creation of one billion jobs in developing countries over the next decade. Achievement of this goal requires that the industrial countries adopt agricultural trade policies designed to enhance the export opportunities of developing nations. Also, developing countries should realise that agricultural progress offers the best safety net against hunger and poverty, since over 50% of their population depend on crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and agro-processing for their livelihood security.
Global employment programme: Neither the industrial nor the developing countries can resolve the problem of unemployment in isolation. The industrial nations require a significant increase in demand, which only the faster-growing developing countries can provide. The latter require greater investment and access to markets, especially for agricultural products and textiles. A global employment programme should be adopted as a part of the UN Millennium goals, setting forth a plan to expand job creation dramatically worldwide during the present decade. The plan should focus on elimination of protectionist trade policies, debt rescheduling for the poorest debtor nations, accelerated transfer and dissemination of technology, and international cooperation to encourage labour-friendly tax policies.
International Sustainable Development Force for Food Deficit Regions: An international development force should be constituted under the UN, consisting of demobilized military personnel and young professionals, trained and equipped to promote people-centred, sustainable development initiatives. The technical and organizational capabilities of this force should be employed to design and implement integrated programmes to upgrade food production and distribution in famine-prone nations by the introduction of effective systems and institutions for planning, administration, education, demonstration and marketing.
Institutional Development for Economic Transitions: Macro-economic policy reforms must be complemented by parallel efforts at the micro-level to build up new social institutions to support education and training in entrepreneurial and management skills, a free flow of commercial and technical information, access to credit and marketing, assistance for small enterprises, business incubators, industrial estates, quality standards, leasing, franchising, and a wide range of other basic commercial systems.
Global Education Programme: A worldwide programme should be launched to improve the quantity and quality of education in both developing and industrial nations. The programme should focus on the achievement of six objectives: eradication of illiteracy by 2020; raising the educational standards of female children to that of males; expanding techniracy by improving basic technical information and productive skills through a network of basic technical institutions using methods of instruction appropriate to the recipients; changes in the school curricula at all levels to reorient education to promote self-employment; raising the minimum levels of education in industrial nations by two years; and evolving education systems now to prepare youth for life in the present information age.
Master Plan for debt alleviation:: An international agreement should be negotiated to provide debt alleviation for the most indebted countries. Debt reductions can be based on the current market value of country debt, directly linked to investment by these countries in programmes to expand education, upgrade vocational skills and other investments that attack the root causes of poverty.
Comprehensive, Human-centred Theory of Development: An important shift in thinking has taken place from regarding development primarily in terms of economic growth to greater emphasis on the human welfare and development of people. But development is not only a set of goals or material achievements – it is a social process by which human beings progressively develop their capacities and release their energies for higher levels of material achievement, social and cultural advancement, and psychological fulfilment. A new theory is needed that focuses on the dynamic role of information, attitudes, social institutions and cultural values in the development process. We need urgently the economics of human dignity and indicators like Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness.
Tolerance, diversity and small arms proliferation: The dramatic increase in the availability and use of small arms has become a highly destabilizing factor, both in industrial and developing countries. Often these weapons are utilized against other ethnic, religious and linguistic groups. Highest priority must be given to controlling and reversing the proliferation of small arms on a parallel with the determined international measures employed to curb hijacking. These weapons should be classified and a UN register created to monitor their manufacture and sale; agreements should be negotiated between major arms suppliers to severely restrict production and sales; and strong sanctions must be instituted to discourage states from abetting small arms proliferation. Thanks both to the spread of democratic systems of governance and the on-going scientific and technological revolutions, we can at long last realise the goals of a world without hunger and poverty. Achievement of this goal will however depend upon our ability to foster job-led economic growth rooted in the principles of ecology, economics and equity.
Swaminathan, M.S. (1994) Chairman, ICPF. Uncommon Opportunities : an Agenda for Peace and equitable development. Report of the International Commission on Peace and Food. Zed Books, London & New Jersey, 210pp.
Swaminathan, M.S. (1999). I Predict : A Century of Hope. Towards an era of harmony with nature and freedom from hunger. East West Books (Madras) Pvt. Ltd. pp 155.
Swaminathan, M.S. (2002). From Rio de Janeiro to Johannesburg – Action Today and not just promises for tomorrow. EastWest Books (Madras) Pvt. Ltd, pp. 224