The Baha'i International Community (BIC) launched a statement on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, inviting UN officials, ambassadors of member states, non-governmental organizations and other social actors to explore themes concerning humanity’s movement toward universal peace.
The statement, “A Governance Befitting: Humanity and the Path Toward a Just Global Order,” has, in the brief time since its publication in September, already begun to stimulate profound reflection and thoughtful discussion about the role of international structures.
Commenting on the statement, H.E. Alvaro Albacete, Ambassador of Spain and Deputy Secretary General of KAICIID, says, “The idea of global coalitions is very much embedded in the [statement]. … I want to pay tribute to actors very important to forge global coalitions, not only UN member states. And, I want to focus on the importance of religious actors in forging those global coalitions. The role is very important in areas such as development, education, health, and so on.
“Today, in the UN, we count on a very innovative body which is the Multi-Faith Advisory Council. It’s the first step as religious voices are heard at the United Nations. And it happens that that body is chaired by the Baha'i community and its representative, Bani Dugal. I want to congratulate the Baha'i Community for the good work that it is doing through that important body at the United Nations.”
Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, says of the statement: “It speaks powerfully to the moment of now and to the needs of every single human being on this earth and every single institution.” She continues: “I am particularly taken by how clear and articulate and eloquent the statement is on the need for us to … come together. The Baha'i Faith has always inspired me to understand something that is fundamental to all faith traditions around the world: the acknowledgement … of the fact that we are all one. … Our survival on this planet, the planet’s survival, is fundamentally dependent on whether or not we will get this simple fact deep into our systems. We thrive when we are one. We self-destruct when we believe that our boundaries matter.”
Fergus Watt, of the coordination group for the UN 2020 campaign, says the statement “focuses on some of the broader international trends that are animating human progress toward a world community.”
Mr. Watt highlights how the concept of unity presented in the statement is one “that embraces diversity of national, legal, cultural, and political traditions, but situated within an ethical basis that reminds us of the shared values that are intrinsic to humans everywhere: an acknowledgment of interdependence, a shared ethic of justice, and a recognition that humanity is one.
“The statement also recognizes that the transformation that is ongoing is a gradual process, it is a step-by-step process, but that every step makes the next possible.”
Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing of the Center for Peace and Global Governance says, “We are becoming aware that being one organism makes us open to global challenges. But we realize that we lack precisely the global decision-making structures needed to tackle these problems. This is why new structures such as a directly-elected international body are needed.”
Richard Ponzio, Director of the Stimson Center’s Just Security 2020 Program, highlights the notion of a global civic ethic mentioned in the statement as essential to building toward greater degrees of international cooperation, stating: “Everybody has their own definition of a global civic ethic. It is great to see it referred to in ‘A Governance Befitting,’ and how no issue with that scope and significance has challenged us to come together and build not only a global structure, institutions, norms, and tools to respond to [global] challenges, but to also have ethical and moral principles that underpin these institutions. That is at the heart of a global civic ethic.”
The BIC is looking ahead, seeing the coming quarter century—stretching from the United Nations’ 75th anniversary to its centenary—as a critical period in determining the fortunes of humanity. The launch event, which welcomed some 200 attendees across the world, was an invitation to further exploration and one of many contributions the BIC is making to discussions about the need for systems of global cooperation to be strengthened.
Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha'i International Community, states: “We hope this is the beginning of a series of conversations that will be part of a movement of change to bring us to the centenary of the UN as a much more evolved world order characterized by equality, unity, lasting peace, and understanding among the governments and peoples of the world. The next 25 years are of critical importance for the life of humanity.”