By: Tasneem Hameed
Although all inhabitants of the planet earth are similar in their physical being and basic needs, still it stands divided geographically, historically, politically, economically, socially, psychologically and emotionally. Despite great strides in the areas of human rights, democracy and technological development inequity and inequality continue to haunt us. It would be proper go through The Preamble and some articles of Universal Declaration Of Human Rights issued by the United Nations Organization to know, what was the agenda for our world and, where we stand now.
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of Mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
· All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
· Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
It sounds sweet, but its hollowness is for everyone to see.
Historical divide mostly relates to the past events, wars and acts of torture perpetrated by one country on another, and should have served as a lesson learned and accepted as closed and past transaction. But, the talk of war between civilizations, crusades and the like resulted in opening old wounds and spreading hatred among different religions and communities.
Geographical divide to a certain extent was natural, but to use it for further dividing the world is illogical and dangerous. This classification of groups, the North into the rich northern countries, and the South into the poor southern countries had political, and economic reasons . Although based on the theory that most of developed countries are in the north and most of the developing or underdeveloped countries are in the south. But, it is important to remember that not all countries in the North could be called "developed" while some of the countries in the South, could be called developed. So why this divide?
Political divide is the mother of all divides and played a devastating role in dividing the people and the states for political gains and expediency. The Cold war gave rise to the concept of new worlds. The terms "First World," "Second World," and "Third World" countries differentiated between democratic countries, communist countries, and those countries that did not align with democratic or communist countries. Another group of countries calling itself non-aligned also came into existence during this period to take their seat at the table as representative of the third world. However, that too was more an attempt by its main leaders to build their reputation internationally than to do some good for the countries they were representing. Ironically some of the prominent countries were actually more aligned with the First or the Second world for their interests, but not officially. The Chief George Manuel of Shuswap tribe, invented the term "Fourth World in 1970s that refers to widely unknown nations (cultural entities) of indigenous people, "First Nations" as described by him living within or across national state boundaries.After the cold war the terms became obsolete and, the worlds and groups irrelevant.
The inventor of the most recent divide was the ex-President George Bush, who after the most tragic and barbaric events of 9/11 declared that a country is either with the USA or against it, dividing the world into two groups , one who supported the USA , declared as friends and the others as enemies.
Economic and the social divide have common patterns because of their close relationship. The ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor countries as well as rich and poor people, has bifurcated the world between haves and have-nots. According to one study the economic and social gap between the world's richest and poorest 1 billion people has no historical precedent.
According to a report of the World Health Organization (WHO) roughly 1.2 billion people are undernourished, underweight, and often hungry. At the same time, roughly 1.2 billion people are over nourished and overweight, So, while a billion people spend their time worrying whether they will eat , another billion worry about eating too much. Disease patterns also reflect the widening gap. The billion poorest suffer mostly from infectious diseases- malaria, tuberculosis, dysentery, and AIDS. Malnutrition leaves infants and small children vulnerable to infectious diseases. Unsafe drinking water takes a heavier toll on those with hunger-weakened immune systems, resulting in millions of fatalities each year. In contrast, among the billion at the top of the global economic scale, it is diseases related to aging, obesity, smoking, and exercise deprivation that take the heaviest toll.
Formation of the Group of 5 and Group of 8 (G5 + G8) countries is the latest method of dividing the world. The most affluent countries decided among themselves to decide the economic destiny of the world by planning and implementing economic policies at the international level. The international financial institutions being mostly funded by these countries helped in their implementation.
Psychologically and emotionally a vast population of the world stands alienated and find itself in the throes of poverty, ignorance, disease and misery. They see the other side of the divide thriving and controlling all the resources for their own good. This has led to the feelings of despondency, hopelessness, fear, anger and hate for those who matters and who could do much to make the world a better place to live, but are busy in making more money, getting more resources and powers. This divide, is relatively a recent phenomenon and has started to take a definite shape. If inequity and inequality continue to rise and there is no serious attempt to bridge the yawning gap between the two ends of the great divide a situation is fast approaching where the suffering people will take matters in their own hands, movement like Capture Wall Street could be a symbol of things to follow.
The agenda set by the UNO is in tatters, there are no signs of any positive development to reverse the situation and take immediate remedial steps. Those who control the destiny of the world are in partnership irrespective of their professions, or state boundaries for their common cause. So what lies in store? What could be done? Is Professor Dr. Steven Hawking right in expressing doubts about the survival of human race when he asked the big question "In a world that is in chaos politically, socially, and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?"
For finding a way out it is necessary to decide about the starting point. As discussed above the political divide is the mother of all divides and could be the starting point. Evidently the power of state dominates all other powers and if it does not continue to stay subservient to political expediency, the so-called national interests, greed for more power and its retention, then a lot could be done to reverse the situation.
The most powerful countries of the world must to work together for saving humanity from the impending disaster, and if they failed they too will ultimately become the victim of its consequences. The rulers of these (8 to 10) the most powerful countries, economically as well as militarily must set an agenda for the next 25 years based on the following fundamental principles and stand guarantors for its implementation:
1. A declaration that there is only, ONE WORLD and that Peace and prosperity is the right of every human being and that and every country will have an equal right to the resources of the planet earth based on its needs, made and signed by all the countries of the world. The countries and the people who have been left far behind on the human development scale will have the priority in this distribution.
2. The policies of all the countries must conform to what is right and just, instead of on double standards, political expediency and self-interest .
3. All the weapons of mass destruction will be destroyed, and drastic cut made in the conventional weapons.
4. Ensure the goal of Peace in the world by removing the underlying causes of war, conflicts and terrorism for preempting them in future.
The first point of the agenda enunciates the principles while the remaining three will greatly help in its implementation. One can imagine about the resources that will be available if the huge amount spent on nuclear and other weapons will be used for improving the lives of people inhabiting our planet. No doubt there will be difficulties in setting the agenda and its implementation, but if, those who could do it are honest, realistic and bold enough to realize what will be the consequences for everyone, if the present situation and conditions continue, they could do it.