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The world is thirsty for peace

19.03.2018, 14:52
Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, former director with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and president of a consulting firm dealing with international affairs

Few people crave peace more than those who have experienced war. So much of humanity has experienced war and therefor says; never again.

Peace, however, requires certain conditions. Perhaps the most important one is justice based on rule of law. Without this precondition people live in fear for their lives, in poverty and hunger, and lead uneducated and unproductive lives. All this is made even worst by contrast to the lands where the rule of law and justice prevail and the well being of the citizens is evident.

There would be more peace globally if the UN Declaration of Human Rights had wider application. Then, life and equality would be a right not just a privilege for some. The basic needs for food, clothing, health and shelter would be a standard rather than an exception, and other rights such as access to employment, power and influence accessible to those who seek and earn it rather than an ethnic, racial, or political right; or the right of a gun.

Alas, there is too much of what we don’t want in this world; too much pain and destruction. There are too many tears instead of what we crave: peace and security.

One thing is certain: justice does not bring about war; injustice does. Therefore, the world needs more places where justice based on the rule of law prevails. There, people are free to realize their potential with the help of the state
Type to enter text instead of its obstruction. They are free to come and go. Their basic human rights —food, shelter, education—are a given. Most telling is the fact that others wish to immigrate there in order to gain similar advantages.

But how to achieve a universal just society that creates peace rather than live in a state of war?

Much has been written and much is being done to achieve this end. However, war —declared or undeclared— is still with us.

There are wars by leaders against those who gave them power or those with opposing views. There are fake-news wars to cause global mischief and wars of political lies by those who wish to grab power illegally to use it for their own ends; more power and more wealth.

In North Korea, the despot, threatens to create global terror. It is supported by Russia by providing it with the capacity to strike foreign states with intercontinental ballistic missiles. The aim is global domination not justice or the rule of law.

In cases, where the oppressed cannot take it anymore the war on what will prevail—justice or injustice— commences.

In Syria, for example, the oppressed sought to remove a dictator. Instead of dealing with the situation through the rule of law, the president resorted to force. His atrocities continue despite some half million dead and thanks to the support of other despots like Russia ad Iran.

In Ukraine, the Revolution of Dignity, Maidan, overthrew a Russia puppet president. Russia retaliated by annexing Crimea, sovereign territory of Ukraine, and Wagin a war of terror costing over ten thousand Ukrainian lives. Russia won’t admit how many of its own have been killed.

What is the root cause of all these conflicts? The answer is that those in power broke the law: there is injustice. Events move from bad to worst. The perpetrators of injustice unite to support one another just like Russia stands by Syria’s dictator-president. This escalates creating more global hotspots and instability like that in North Korea and elsewhere as in Venezuela or Myanmar.

What is to be done?

The Catholic women of the world have a roadmap for peace. It is offered in the teachings of Christ who is all love but reacts with strength to the Pharisees and their injustice.

That is our direction: love for peace; action against injustice.

We start close to home. In our families we praise what is right and condemn the wrong: We do not admire despots as “great leaders” nor do we let our governments support them. We clearly state that collaboration with injustice ultimately backfires.

Next, we pay attention to what is being taught at our schools and universities to protect our youth. We organize to ensure that these institutions reflect the values that are in keeping with the law rather than with individual or institutional agendas. We get involved—attend meetings, write letters to authorities, and call them out if they promote rogue ideas or leaders. There is no room in our institutions of learning to glorify the Snowdens, Assads or Putins of the world.

At the government levels, we participate actively in the election process and in policy formulations to ensure that they are not hijacked by special interests. This was the case recently, in the United States where pro-Russia interests changed documents to reflect injustice—the invasion of Ukraine—rather than sanction Russia for its war there.

Fighting for justice is a very big job but our desire for peace is greater. For that reason, at the WOCWO triennial congress, we might consider creating a sub committee dedicated to promoting global justice.

Let’s be optimistic: There are many more who want peace and security than those who want war.  We can win.

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, former director with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and president of a consulting firm dealing with international affairs, writes on political issues motivated by her experiences as a surviver of Nazi and Communist Russia’s dictatorships. She is an executive member of the Eparchy of Toronto of the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada. 

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

World Union of Catholic Women's Organization