Thursday, September 15, 2011

Building world Peace: Towards a revision of Concepts of peace

Paper presented in a conference organized by the center for inter religious dialogue (CID) of the organization of culture and Islamic relations, in collaboration with the Asian parliamentary assembly (APA)-Iran, September 2011

“Peace” is undoubtedly one of the most universal and significant norms of humanity, and as Raimon Panikkar describes it "one of the few positive symbols having meaning for the whole of humanity".
However, Peace in today’s world has been regarded as an absent phenomenon. This is due to the failure of popular concepts of peace in world international affairs. These concepts of peace that failed are the concepts that limit peace to the state of “absence of war” or "absence of conflicts". Another part of this failure is due to the failing of the commonly used concepts of peace to direct the global pursuit of peace towards peacebuilding rather than just making it.
The ways we think about peace is often diffuse and content-dependent. We profess to honor peace within a framework of religious precepts and affirmations--while organizing our thoughts about life and politics around more deadly ends and objectives.
Indeed "peace" has not proven difficult to define, but difficult to be achieved and built. So, the questions raised are:
Is it because of its rhetorical uses for political leaders who benefit from the ambiguity of the term, or due to the socially constructed cultural differences in peace concepts, or the absence of justice, equity and good will that make peace in international affairs an illusion?
In part one, this paper discusses, briefly, the concepts of peace in the three Semitic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Here it finds that “peace” is a commonly praised discourse in their scriptures.
Then, part two analyses the peace discourse in the international relations schools of thought that had contributed in peace concepts analysis, to find a major gap between the religious concepts and the political ones.
So, this paper finally suggests a relationship between peace definitions and peace building. It argues that Peace concepts are the basis on which we decide how to make peace, and to build a sustainable long-lasting “culture of peace”. What one does to achieve and build peace depends on how he images peace, defines, or conceptualizes it. If the present world peace is in danger, then the global peace concepts may need revision.