The Geneva Office of the Baha’i International Community (BIC) has joined with civil society actors, academics, and representatives of UN agencies and international organizations to contribute to discussions on peace-building initiatives around the world at Geneva Peace Week, which concluded last Friday.
“Peace is one of the greatest concerns of humanity today,” says Simin Fahandej, a representative of the Geneva Office. “Although there is a long road ahead, there are constructive forces moving humanity toward greater collective maturity. By bringing together different actors, Peace Week provides an important international forum for the exchange of ideas, particularly at a time when many of the challenges to peace have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Geneva Office’s contributions to discussions focused on the critical need for strengthening systems of global cooperation, drawing on the BIC’s recent statement “A Governance Befitting.” In a seminar held by the Office last week, three members of the Baha’i community with expertise in the fields of governance, economics, and the environment explored some of the implications of the BIC statement and its call for a “global civic ethic.”
Arthur Lyon Dahl, president of the International Environment Forum, observes how the BIC statement draws attention to need for strengthening legal frameworks relating to the environment. “Too much of the present global system of environmental governance is voluntary. The best efforts of some are neutralized if not reversed by the contrary actions of others driven by national or economic self-interest.
“The environmental crisis is pushing us to an acknowledgement of our global interdependence as we see that the welfare of any segment of humanity is inextricably bound up with the welfare of the whole.”
“One of the things that has struck me is … the kind of rethinking that is taking place in the world today about spending priorities. I think that all of a sudden governments are realizing that the way we have allocated the resources of the state involves a lot of inefficiencies and misplaced priorities. One hears, for instance, of the need now to redefine security more in terms of social and economic welfare rather than to think of security strictly in militaristic terms, which is what we have tended to do at least since the UN was created in 1945.”
Maja Groff, an international lawyer based in The Hague, Netherlands, highlights the theme of human capacity, saying of the BIC statement: “It holds a very, very positive vision for humanity, for our ability to solve global challenges. … If we, collectively, fundamentally and finally, at last accept our commonality, … if we have this clear acknowledgement of our essential unity then new possibilities will open.”
Reflecting on the discussions that took place over Peace Weak, Ms. Fahandej states: “Knowledge about the need to establish peace is not enough. As the BIC statement says, the machinery of international politics and power has to increasingly be directed toward cooperation and unity. We all need to see each other as part of the same human family. That is the imperative need of this age, of this moment.”