When the Baha’i International Community sent its ten recommendations for reform to the UN, most were specific—but one called for a complete conceptual leap.

The Baha’i teachings ask humanity to regard no other person as an enemy:

Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 1-2.

… love and good faith must so dominate the human heart that men will regard the stranger as a familiar friend, the malefactor as one of their own, the alien even as a loved one, the enemy as a companion dear and close. … The meaning is that they must treat all humankind even as they treat their sympathizers, their fellow-believers, their loved ones and familiar friends. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 84.

In the same way, the Baha’i International Community asked the United Nations to establish a permanent global police force; to economically support those nations whose militaries participate in that force; and most importantly, to completely remove the word “enemy” from the UN Charter:

VI. The maintenance of peace being a task incumbent upon all members of the United Nations, it is proposed that the first sentence of Paragraph 2, Article 47, be amended to read:

The Military Staff Committee shall consist of the Chiefs of Staff of the members of the Security Council or their representatives.

VII. In the interests of justice, it is proposed that Article 50 be amended to read: {{If preventive or enforcement measures against any state are taken by the Security Council, any other state, whether a member of the United Nations or not, which finds itself confronted with special economic problems arising from the carrying out of those measures, shall have the right to ask the Security Council for a solution of its problems.}}
VIII. Having been written and adopted during the course of the Second World War, the United Nations Charter at times reflects the feelings and conditions which prevailed then and which do not exist any longer. It is inappropriate to perpetuate the use of the term enemy in relation to certain states which must inevitably cooperate in the establishment and the maintenance of world peace.

It is suggested that Paragraph 2 of Article 53, as well as references to “enemy states” in any other article of the Charter, be eliminated. – from the Baha’i International Community’s recommendations to the 1955 United Nations Charter Revision Conference.

Six decades later, this terminology seems even more antiquated and obsolete. The Allied powers in World War II—primarily China, The Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States—opposed the Axis powers of Germany, Japan and Italy. Because the UN Charter was written mainly by the victors in that war, the representatives of the victorious Allied powers, it considered the Axis nations its enemies at the time, and identified them that way in the Charter.

Today, of course, Germany is a strong ally of the United Kingdom and the United States, and a powerful part of the European Union along with France and Italy. Japan has become a reliable and close ally of the Western nations. The Soviet Union no longer exists. Alliances have shifted and changed, and one-time mortal enemies are now close friends. Once those nations savagely attacked each other, and yet now they cooperate and co-exist peacefully:

The conqueror shall one day be conquered; and the vanquished ones victorious! Remember the history of the past: did not France conquer Germany more than once—then did not the German nation overcome France? We learn also that France conquered England; then was the English nation victorious over France!

These glorious conquests are so ephemeral! Why attach so great importance to them and to their fame, as to be willing to shed the blood of the people for their attainment? Is any victory worth the inevitable train of evils consequent upon human slaughter, the grief and sorrow and ruin which must overwhelm so many homes of both nations? For it is not possible that one country alone should suffer.

Oh! why will man, the disobedient child of God, who should be an example of the power of the spiritual law, turn his face away from the Divine Teaching and put all his effort into destruction and war? – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 149-150.

This fundamental Baha’i principle—that the Earth is one country—should prompt us all, as individuals and as individual nations, to see others not as enemies, but as members of one human family:

God created one earth and one mankind to people it. Man has no other habitation, but man himself has come forth and proclaimed imaginary boundary lines and territorial restrictions, naming them Germany, France, Russia, etc. And torrents of precious blood are spilled in defense of these imaginary divisions of our one human habitation, under the delusion of a fancied and limited patriotism. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 354.

What a great symbolic and practical gesture, if we simply removed the word “enemy” from the Charter of our preeminent international organization—and what a great victory over our bloody past if we began to think of all other people, not as enemies, but as friends and allies.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

2 Comments

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  • Sep 07, 2017
    One root cause of these ruinous ephemeral conflicts and wars is xenophobia - fear of strangers or foreigners. It is the same fear that is being exhibited now by turning away refugees and immigrants. All the more need for programs of education and acceptance, and absorbing new peoples and cultures into existing ones, which can be done while retaining their important aspects, much like the United Nations has absorbed different forces and opinions into one general assembly while retaining certain sovereign rights. This question, How can we make the United Nations more effective? is an important one for all mankind ...at this juncture in its development. It seems apparent that Shoghi Effendi guided our 1955 proposals, which was a blessing.
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  • Amad Taeed
    Sep 06, 2017
    Wonderful, am very thankful!