The right to peace
This week, precisely on Friday, September 21, 2018, the world commemorates the International Day of Peace, a day devoted to reflecting on peace, engaging in peace education and working towards ending violent conflicts across the world. Though established in 1982 by Resolution 36/67 of the United Nations, and first observed on September 21, 1982, the formal adoption of September 21 as the International Peace Day was made by the General Assembly in 2001.
The essence of the Peace Day is captured by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in his countdown message to the Day some weeks ago. According to him, Peace Day “embodies our shared aspiration to end conflict in all its forms and to safeguard the human rights of people. It is day on which the United Nations calls for a 24-hour global ceasefire, with the hope that in our lifetime we will witness an end to violence. Yet, there is more to achieving peace than laying down weapons. True peace requires standing up for the human rights of all the world’s people.”
Incidentally, this year’s edition of Peace Day coincides with the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most translated secular document in the world, available in over 500 languages. In acknowledgement of this fact, the theme of this year is “The Right to Peace – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70” and it is apt to view peace as an inviolable human right, even if it was not so declared in the document.
The University of Ilorin, the most peaceful university in Nigeria, started to mark Peace Day in 2015, through its Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies. This year, a collaborative press conference, driven by the Centre, under the able leadership Prof. Noah Yusuf, will mark the occasion with a view to making Nigerians and all peoples of the world to embrace peaceful coexistence, resolve their conflicts non-violently and end the orgies of war that constitute a blight on humanity, the human spirit and the entire planet. It is our collective plight that war anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere.
Meanwhile, as the global attention rightly focuses on the right to peace, it is necessary to appreciate that every right goes with certain responsibilities. It is when these responsibilities are not discharged as and when due that wars rear their ugly heads, as examples show in various parts of the world enmeshed in violent conflicts. While peace should not be taken for granted and the responsibility of maintaining it remains sacrosanct to everyone who appreciates the dynamics of consequences, the unassailable truth is that violence ultimately is counter-productive. As David Friedman once wrote, “The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.”
That virtually everyone is entitled to the right to peace brings to mind the submission of the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, in his presentation at a public lecture organised, among the activities, to mark Peace Day last year, precisely on September 21. According to him, as the youth constitute about 70% of Nigeria’s total population, they may be “dividends for social transformation with the right investments or exploited to promote violence, insurgency and drive radicalization.” He then called for the urgent need to “create more opportunities for the youths, promote inclusiveness in governance and ensure that prosperity is shared in a way that discourages conflict,” as reported by Unilorin Bulletin on September 25, 2017.
Just as the Governor said, it is a truism that limited economic opportunities, limited participation in governance as well as rising unemployment rates result in frustration and agitation among the youth. This reality is a violation of their right to peace as a hungry man is an angry man. It therefore goes without saying that the right to peace of our people is largely anchored on the responsibility of government all at levels in providing opportunities, converting talents to resources and making citizens be at peace with one another. The right to peace, therefore, is the right to gainful employment, the right to security, the right to dignity and the right to freedom, within the confines of the law or extant rules and regulations.
If we all give peace a chance and respect people’s right to peace, the plight of war and insecurity manifesting in involuntary migration, the incidence of millions of refugees and Internally Displaced People, all manners of crime like armed robbery, kidnapping and bloodletting, among others, would subside. As I said on the occasion last year, “There is an overarching message of the Peace Day that we need to internalise. The message is the need to work together as one people, regardless of our ethnic, religious, political and ideological differences. We are united by a single humanity and we are united by being Nigerians.”
We are all entitled to the right to peace and we should grant it to one another by seeking unity and amity in diversity because united we stand, divided they fall.
Congratulations to our new Readers and Professors!
Last week, the Governing Council of the University approved the elevation of some senior academics to the professorial cadre. This is the second time this year that such good news would electrify the campus with excitement and celebrations. It is worthy of commendation on the part of the University for granting the qualified staff the right to what they deserve.
The Alma Mater congratulates the new Readers as well as Professors A. W. Salami, L. A. Olatunji, K. W. Wahab, K. Rauf, A. O. Idowu (Mrs), M. O. Esere (Mrs), O. L. Olaitan, E. O. Oriola, I. A. Yusuf, N. M. Abdulraheem (Mrs), I. A. Abikan, M. Etudaiye and A. A. Alaro, the esteemed scholar of many vibrant colours, among others.
May your stars continue to shine in the firmament!