Belligerent Peace

By Ogbonna, Chidiebere C. | International Journal on World Peace, March 2018 | Go to article overview

Belligerent Peace


Ogbonna, Chidiebere C., International Journal on World Peace


INTRODUCTION

The concept of peace has been an issue of concern since the beginning of humanity. However, it became a real focus after WWII. Although WWI brought tremendous destruction and death, WWII was physically and emotionally devastating and the concept of peace became a mantra among world leaders. The need for peace and the determination to circumvent another world war gave rise to the establishment of the United Nations (UN) in 1945. The UN became a replacement for the ineffective League of Nations, which was founded at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles.1 The purpose of the UN, according to its Charter, is "to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends."2 Peacekeeping is the primary concern of the United Nations. The organization helps negotiate peace treaties and occasionally dispatches soldiers to help with peacekeeping missions across the world.

The post-Cold War era illuminated the professional aspect of peace, with numerous institutions of higher learning offering programs in peace and in conflict studies. Having a career in the field of peace became a trend, with a number of people identifying themselves as peace workers (peace-builders and peace facilitators), students of peace, and peace researchers.3 By implication, peace became some sort of industry that absorbs employees and, as a result, the real meaning of peace is compromised. The advent of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) added to the incertitude surrounding the concept of peace and its de-facto meaning. In the 1990s, numerous NGOs-particularly from the Western countries of the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe-were established, with many of them focusing on peace-building in postcolonial and post-war African states. This development created employment opportunities for Western peace expatriates, volunteers, and locals who were gainfully employed under the auspices of peace-workers. The emergence of peace NGOs, changed many people's perception of peace from an inherent obligation of mankind4 to a phenomenon of monetary gain to exploit.

Arguably, NGOs have proved to be an important development partner; nevertheless, the "pay-for-peace-concept" implies that peace workers will render their services in piecemeal-a case where services are rendered in consideration and in comparison with the value of paycheck. Another issue is the expatriate or academic value placed on peace-building. Well established NGOs often rely on the use of acclaimed peace-building experts and pro-fessionals, and in so doing, they undermine the capability of the ordinary people in making peace. The Gacaca court in post-genocide Rwanda, albeit with reservations proved that peace-building is not a function of academic prowess. NGOs' immense reliance on academic professionals for peacebuilding does not provide the structures needed for peace to flourish. The ability and the potential of the locals and otherwise ordinary people to build peace in their own way and in line with their values and desires are oftentimes undermined. Instead of peace-building emanating from the people based on their needs and aspirations, it is imposed on them by expatriates who assume to understand what is best for the local people and, as a result, the locals are always faced with the challenges of adopting and adapting to a "foreign peace." This is not to deny the fact that NGOs have done a lot of good work in supporting the ordinary people in their desperate situations such as in time of war or deadly epidemic. Observably, NGOs now fill a gap where world-powers and the international community are unable to function in terms of mediating unconventional warfare such as terrorism. …

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