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December 8, 2015

Responding To: Reflections on the Future of Global Governance

United Nations, Global Governance, and Perpetual Peace

Patrice Ndayisenga

In Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, German philosopher Immanuel Kant laid down a philosophical presupposition which could help set up a worldwide organization with the mandate to ensure perpetual peace all over the world. Regardless of the critics, the Kantian dream of peace among nations provided a conceptual framework to think and hope in the possibilities of a world society that lives in solidarity and mutual support.

Three centuries latter, a French paleontologist, Pierre Tielhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man argued that the evolutionary process of the universe is heading towards one common end, the Omega Point. In his evaluation, he affirmed that the present stage of evolution is heading towards a “planetization” process (globalization) in which humanity is geared towards a common mindset of universal consciousness. Without underrating the visions of Kant and Teilhard, the creation of the United Nations, three centuries after the Kantian conceptualization of the League of Nations, materialized to a certain limit the ideals of a world that humanity deserves in the forecast of the Teilhardian vision of the universe.

Granted, current challenges in world affairs seem to know no boundaries; for every crisis, the consequences are felt globally in forms of, inter alia, refugee crises, asylum seekers, and security threats. The UN battles its way to provide solutions to these problems or to prevent their escalation. However, its efforts sometimes meet serious challenges which limit the effectiveness of its responses. This can be discerned in some cases of underfunded relief programmes for refugee crises; the example of the refugees in Central African Republic is a case in point. The UN also suffers difficulties to contain security threats in a reasonable amount of time; close to home is the example of the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo which has lasted for over two decades or so.

The discernible limitations of the UN efforts in crisis management can help us understand the reason why its works still need global cooperation, without undermining the need for its own internal appraisal vis-à-vis its methodological models in mitigating humanitarian crisis across the globe. In his remarks on October 23rd, 2015 Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, acknowledged the need for stronger cooperation among the UN partners. He said that only collective efforts could ensure a sustainable future. Indeed, solidarity cannot be emphasized enough in this discussion as a moral imperative which should harness the global security efforts of the United Nations.

Solidarity as a guiding principle in relation to global challenges enables nation states to open to the needs of their counterparts which, despite the geographical distances, stand in an inescapable interdependence insofar as their integral development prospects are concerned. Nonetheless, for the UN to optimize the collaborative efforts of world nations towards peace and stability, it is also imperative that solidarity goes hand in hand with subsidiarity. Arguably, some of the security crises in sub Saharan Africa have not been addressed satisfactorily partly because of the lack of in-depth consideration of all the complexities at stake.

Hence, in view of the current trend of affairs, the principle of subsidiarity calls for the UN partners and stakeholders to invest also in the empowerment of local communities in peace processes. There is a need for a good grasp of the cultural dimension in conflict development and involving the locals from each end of the divide assures possibilities of long-lasting solutions to conflicts. Besides, the local voices sometimes challenge the preset problem-solving theories because they invite us to consider world crises in their singularities as we strive to uproot the fundamental causes of the unrests. Such is a path the UN should embark on in the coming years so that fifty years down the line we can claim global solidarity as an entrenched common value which underpins our pursuit for perpetual peace in the world.

Patrice Ndayisenga is a Jesuit scholastic from Rwanda currently pursuing theology studies at Hekima College, a Jesuit school of theology based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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