The United Nations and the New World Order

Address by Anwar Fazal at a public lecture organised by the Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) at  Kuching, Sarawak, East Malaysia on  26 May 1995

“We the peoples of the United Nations…. united for a better world”. That is the preamble of the United Nations agreed to 50 years ago with great vision and hope. The world unfortunately is still a cruel and violent place and, in many ways, in a worse state.

One billion people live in absolute poverty; 900 million cannot read and write and twice as many have no access to water. There are 25 million people classified as refugees, the most ever in history. Millions die yearly not only from armaments but from our perverted global priorities in bringing to humanity not even a decent life, not even survival.

Six Ways to Spend US$ 25 Billion

One of best examples of the perverted state of global priorities was stated powerfully in a recent United Nations report.

The UNICEF report, 1993 State of the World Children states that US$25 billion extra a year is what it would take to meet the most basic needs of all the world’s children by the end of this decade. What we are spending our money on? The UNICEF report gives some examples

·         Smoke and Drink - US$25 billion is less than what America spends on cigarettes every six months and Western Europe spends on alcohol every three months.

·         Aid for Russia  - US$25 billion is a little more than the 1992 support package for a single nation, Russia, agreed to buy the “group of seven” rich nations.

·         An airport for Hongkong - US$25 billion is a little more than the estimated cost of Hongkong’s new airport.

·         Wages of war - US$25 billion is about as much as the developing world spends every six months to pay the wages of its soldiers.

·         A new road for Japan - US$25 billion is less than what the government of Japan has allocated, in 1992, to the building of a new road from Tokyo to Kobe

What We Can Do

I’d like to use as my framework, the great Chinese special diagnostic and therapeutic tool – acupuncture. Acupuncture needs the understanding of firstly a mapwhich indicates critical points, secondly needles to trigger those points and thirdly people trained to prepare and read the maps and use the needles effectively.

The Map - a Vision Needed

Nothing great happens without a vision and if we look at today’s world, it is characterised by three malignant cultures.

·         Firstly, the cultures of violence both structural kind that through neglect of provision of essential services, cause death and misery and the technological kind emanating from armaments and other products, processes and wastes that maim and kill. Over a million people die each year due to the use of chemical pesticides in the Third World.(And these pesticides as you know were largely a product of the armaments industry.)

·         Secondly, the culture of manipulation both from the machines of bureaucratic propaganda and behaviour control exercised by unbridled advertising techniques. These can prevent the free and informed expression of peoples participation.

·         Thirdly the culture of waste – garbage has become a good measure of mal-development. Green Peace estimates that some 3.2 million tons of waste are exported to developing countries which are playing a role as garbage dumps. About 1.2 billion of the world’s 5.5 million people are “over consumers” and they are responsible for 70 percent of the damage to the environment.

The new alternative vision could instead embody three benign cultures

·         Firstly, a culture of balance and harmony, representing the cycles and systems so well established by the law of nature.

·         Secondly, a culture of trusteeship and stewardship of this earth. We are only guardians of this earth.

·         Thirdly, a culture of accountability, not only in the political sense but also to the future and for many of us to God Almighty.

The Needles – Our Key Points

We need to rethink our concepts of progress and development. There are many ideas and I’d like to share with you some ideas that has been articulated recently in one of the most important books of this year. It is called the Human Development Report 1994 and prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It calls for a fundamental rethink on planethood management. Among other things, it calls for a radical transformation of both thinking and global institutions. It calls for -

·         Firstly, a new concept of human security.

·         Secondly, a new paradigm of development that puts people in the centre of development – Sustainable human development. It means being pro people and pro nature, pro poor, pro women and pro jobs.

·         Thirdly, a new design for development cooperation.

The report says global military spending has been falling by 3.6 percent a year since 1987, yielding a cumulative ‘peace divided’ of US$935 billion during 1987 – 1994. But this dividend has not been harnessed to meet human needs, and the report warns this opportunity should not be lost in future years. The report says those encouraging the arms trade in developing countries are the very nations that have been charged with global security policy – the five permanent numbers of the UN Security Council.

James Gustave Speth, Administrator of UNDP has stated that “A large part of the blame for this trading in death rests with the industrial countries who, while giving aid on the order of US$60 billion a year, earn in compensation an estimated US$125 billion per year from military expenditures of the developing world.”

The report makes a number of other telling points. At the beginning of this century, about 90 percent of war casualties were military. Today, about 90 percent are civilians of 82 conflicts in the last three years 79 were within nations; many nations have sacrificed human security in favour of more sophisticated arms; all military assistance, military bases and subsides to arms exporters should be phased out over a three year period; aid should undergo major restructuring so that the richest 40 percent of the worlds population no longer gets twice as much aid as the poorest; there should be a serious study of new institutions for global governance in the 21st century, including a World Central bank, an International Investment Trust, and a World Anti-Monopoly Authority.

A Seven Point Agenda for Transformation

The Human Development Report 1994 proposed to the World Summit (held in Copenhagen in March 1995) the following seven points agenda -

·         A World Social Charter to arrive at a new social contract among all nations and all people.

·         A new development paradigm of sustainable human development: economic growth centred around people which is sustainable from one generation to the next.

·         A reduction of three percent a year in future global military spending, with 20 percent of savings by the rich nations and 10 percent of the small nations earmarked for global human security.

·         A 20:20 global compact for human development – to provide basic education, primary health care, safe drinking water and essential family planning services to all people – by earmarking at least 20 percent of the existing developing country budgets and 20 percent of donor aid allocations to those basic human priority concerns.

·         A global human security fund – financed from global taxes such as “Tobin Tax” on speculative movement of the international funds, an international tax on consumption of non-renewable energy, global environment permits and a tax on arms trade.

·         A new framework of development cooperation, to graduate from the present aid relationship to a development partnership, by including trade, technology, investment and labour flows in a broader design to be negotiated among nations.

·         An economic security council in the United Nations, as the highest decision-making forum to consider basic issues of human security such as global poverty, unemployment, food security, drug trafficking, global pollution, international migration and a new framework for sustainable human development.

Unfortunately we made only a dent in progress but we will persevere.


Taking Action – The People

We have seen a map of a cruel world. We have seen many creative strategies that can act as needles. But in the end it is people’s action that will make the difference. Remember the preamble, the UN Charter, “We the peoples…”

I would like to share with you seven action areas that can help to develop our strength to make the transformation needed.

Firstly, think Power and Politics – understanding the nature and structure of power and politics in our society, both local and global, know how decisions are reached and fully utilise the pressures that make politics work for you.

Secondly, think Multiplying Leadership – we have to create not just more followers but more leaders especially among women and youth.

Thirdly, think Lateral – link with other groups – mass media, women, ecology, youth and religious groups. Such alliances make powerful synergy.

Fourthly, think Everywhere – encourage the proliferation of autonomous self-reliant groups at all levels and all places. Little victories have a way of creeping up to become  national revolutions.

Fifthly, think Action – there must be a constant stream of simple, high profile, do-able activities that must be specific and have visible targets.

Sixthly, think Structural – look at the root cause of the problems, not just at the symptoms.

There is a story I would like to share that helps us to remember this.

A man sees a baby drowning in a river, he jumps in and saves the baby. As he is bringing the baby ashore, he sees another baby floating down the river and he rushes in to save the second one. And then he sees a third, a fourth, and a fifth, he is busy saving the drowning babies that he has not time to look up the river to see the person throwing the baby into the water.

Seventhly, think Long Term – social problems are not going to disappear easily or quickly. We have build frameworks, institutions, resources and people who will ensure the stamina for a long struggle.

Conclusion – The Three “Peaces”

Mother earth or Gaia (pronounced Ga-Yah) the Greek word for the planet is a living, moving complexity.

We have ransacked Gaia, mother earth, in the name of development. We have raped GAIA many times over to satisfy our lust for materialism and sheer greed.

Today it appears to us as if Gaia, mother earth itself, is suffering from AIDS. It is as if her immune system are being devastated:

·         her circulation systems - the water, the air, are being poisoned.

·         Her lungs - the forests, are being wantonly destroyed.

·         her skin - the ozone layer and soil, are being seared and scraped.

All this devastation may go down the paths from which there may be no return.

Can we do something to reverse this madness? Can we create a new paradigm of development and happiness that enable three kinds of peace?

·         Peace with ourselves

·         Peace with other people and

·         Peace with mother earth

The United Nations is a framework for the world community to enable us to make these three peaces, and we must. Little people doing little things in little places everywhere can change the world and make it happen. Let us work together and make it happen quicker. Let us work to strengthen the vision and hope on which the UN charter is founded.

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