This week concludes our series on a culture of peace. We will be discussing the need for social human investment as a prerequisite for sustainable peace.
There is an adage that peace is not the mere absence of war or carnage. Discontinuation of armed conflict does not imply resolution of the underlying concerns that caused the conflict.
The peace of any people is threatened if they lack quality, affordable health care and education. Their peace also becomes endangered if they have little or nothing to eat or when they can barely get their basic needs. The existence of marginalized groups is also a risk to the peace of any society.
Our collective inability to deal with these factors systematically can cripple peace building consolidation.
In view of the foregone, we think new leadership in peace building should be about being part of solutions to these issues in society. More needs to be devoted to creating platforms that enable the governed straight way send their needs across the floor to the governors.
Peace builders need to understand that the absence of, good quality education, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, low cost health services undermines the growth and development and by extension the peace of any nation.
New leadership in peace building should be taken to another level by looking at such vital issues as education. An educated and enlightened society in the true sense of the word would certainly take care of most of the complex societal issues confronting contemporary leaderships in peace building such as tribal conflicts, communal violence, power struggle, just to name a few.
An enlightened people will always pursue the intellectual path as opposed to violence in solving their problems. It is education that will lead to the people organizing forums to discuss their shared problems and common goals leading to improvement in their living conditions.
It would defy logic for a well-educated person to begin tearing down structures that s/he should be thinking about improving. It would have been an irony for someone that the country spends so much to ensure s/he gained knowledge for such a person to turn against the very society that made him or her.
Peace builders must carve programs involving community dwellers to make leaders understand that the provision of basic services is an obligation and not a favor or a choice.
The use of education and health services as bargaining chips by politicians must be discouraged in every way. It is only when leaders get to the realization that the people have right to these services that sincere efforts can be made in providing them.
We recognize that much progress has been made with respect to education both at local and international levels, however, the perennial shortage of competent teachers at all levels of the education systems needs to be addressed so that, according to Dr. Emmett Dennis, the young people will be adequately prepared to assume future leadership roles.
Besides new leadership basing its peace building works on the essence of education and health care, the marginalized should not also be forgotten. This needs to be made a priority, lest we forget what sparked our own civil conflict, the troubles in the Great Lakes in the 90s, the Arab Spring, Ukraine etc.
Some may argue that if there is still any form of marginalization in Liberia, we are first to admit that it is far from reaching a crisis proportion. However, there is a need to take cognizance of the growing urban slums in Monrovia, the street children, the ex-combatants and many more. They continue to be at a disadvantage in many forms and manner.
Dealing with these issues should be an undertaking that gives space to young people and women to make their contributions. Messengers of Peace (MOP)-echoes the call of Hon. Julia Duncan-Cassell, Minister of Gender and Development to put young people at the forefront of development.
According to Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, “Providing opportunities and choices for all is the central goal of human development. We have a collective responsibility towards the least privileged among us today and in the future around the world-and a moral imperative to ensure that the present is not the enemy of the future”
To sum up, new leadership in peace building in our view should focus more on the provision of basic needs of people including health, education, and water and food security. Without them, peace-building efforts will not have their foundation on solid ground. Successful peace consolidation programme involves a vast commitment of resources to human security.
It is common sense that one cannot vividly visualize a peaceful world without a healthy social investment. There is little development without peace, little peace without respect for human dignity. It thus with advocacy for investment in human security as well as development work and alongside various partners that Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia has become increasingly involved in operations to promote peace.
Until next week, Peace, above all, Peace First, Let Peace Prevail.