Lumbini, 11 December 2019
Chair of this Session,
Vice Chancellor of Lumbini Buddhist University,
Venerable Vice Chair of Lumbini Development Trust, Excellencies,
Eminent scholars from home and abroad,
Distinguished delegates, panelists and participants,
Friends from the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Namaskar and Good Morning to you all.
At the outset, I would like to thank the organizers, Lumbini Research Centre for Peace and Understanding, in collaboration with Lumbini Buddhist University, Lumbini Development Trust and Nepal Council for World Affairs, for inviting me to this important gathering of eminent scholars discussing international understanding and peace.
I welcome the distinguished international delegates to Nepal and wish for their comfortable stay.
I particularly appreciate the organizers for choosing Lumbini as the venue of this conference. There cannot be a better choice. It is an honour and privilege to speak on peace from the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the apostle of peace.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Quest for peace and understanding has been a long and cherished goal of humanity all along the history. Civilizations have evolved, thrived and prospered due largely to the prevalence of peace. They have died due to lack of it.
We are talking about peace in the world, peace among the States, peace among the communities, peace among the religions and cultures, peace among civilizations and peace of mind within an individual. They all are inter-related and mutually reinforcing.
We have seen unprecedented prosperity and progress achieved in a state of peace at all levels.
At the same time, major catastrophes have occurred in the course of history in absence of peace and temptation to war.
We have seen devastating world wars. We have seen making and unmaking of nation States. We have seen long and perennial animosity between and among civilizations and death of civilizations. We have seen crusades between religions to prevail one over the other. We have seen massacre and genocides between and among communities. We have witnessed ethnic cleansing and mass exodus of people due to their colour, faith, ethnicity or origin.
As if this is not enough, we have seen race for armament of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. It is an irony that competition for weapons of mass destruction basically emanates from the rich and prosperous parts of the world and now extends to lesser prosperous regions as well.
Though it is pretended for ensuring effective deterrence for their security, in reality race of nuclear arms never ensures security, rather creates a state of suicidal security dilemma.
Let me quote the teachings of Buddha from Dhammapada that seems pretty relevant to this state of affairs.
“The kind of seed sown will produce that kind of fruit.
Those who do good will reap good results.
Those who do evil will reap evil results.
If you carefully plant a good seed, you will joyfully gather good fruit.”
Race for weapons of mass destruction exactly resembles this irony. It is not a good seed to be sown. Nor will it produce good fruits to enjoy.
Gautam Buddha spread the message of peace across the world. His was the message for reason, harmony, co-existence, love and compassion. It was an inclusive message of peace for all without any distinction on the basis of nationality, race, color or any other denomination. It was a message for equality, justice and truth which constitute the fundamental basis for peace.
Regrettably, whenever Buddha’s message has been crossed or ignored, there have been wars and devastation, human suffering and destruction.
Dialogue and engagements are the tools to promote peace. Dialogues have potentials to prevent wars as well as to conclude war and restore peace.
A more systematic global attempt for the establishment of peace and promotion of cooperation among the nation States began in the ashes of the First World War.
However, due to lack of dialogue and understanding, peace could not prevail for long. The world was pushed into another devastation of Second World War.
Then we created an edifice of United Nations to ensure peace and collective security through cooperation and collaboration among Member States.
This edifice has been largely successful to avert a world-scale war. However, many parts of the world unfortunately have been engulfed in internal conflicts, inter-state conflicts, communal strife, and low intensity wars. Scales of damage wrecked by these conflicts compound in millions of lives, trillions of dollars of properties damaged and immense suffering of human being, including innocent children, women and elderly.
None of these conflicts have brought stability and peace by themselves. It is ultimately the dialogues, negotiation, engagements and collaboration that have transformed conflicts into peace.
Our own experience of 10 years of armed conflict followed by successfully negotiated peace process speaks volumes of the importance of dialogue and understanding in promoting peace. Our peace process is a testimony of how requisite political will and accommodation, negotiation and dialogue can resolve conflicts.
Having achieved political stability, we are now focused on socio-economic transformation with the overarching aspiration of “Prosperous Nepal Happy Nepali”.
Harmony and co-existence make essential ingredients of our culture. We believe in “Vawatu Sarba Mangalam (May all be blessed with auspicious) and “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (The world is a family). Unity in diversity is our basic mantra of cohesive society.
At the international level, Nepal believes in friendship and harmony in the world. Nepal has always stood for total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. We support peaceful resolution of international and inter-state disputes. We have stood for fairness, justice and peace in international affairs. We have passionately espoused the cause of the LDCs, LLDCs and the countries in special situation and called for greater international solidarity for their development. We have consistently promoted the agenda of climate justice as well as implementation of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.
For over 62 years, Nepal has been rendering extraordinary contribution to international peace and security through our participation in UN peace operations. Currently Nepal stands as the 5th largest troop and police contributing country to the UN Peace operations. Our troops and police have successfully protected civilians from violence, helped respond to humanitarian crises, create an environment conducive to peaceful settlement, helped maintain truce, implement peace agreements, clear landmines and assist in laying foundation for durable peace.
We are a member of the UN Peace Building Commission and active member of the Group of Friends of Mediation that promotes the peaceful means of dispute settlement.
Our voice of reason and conscience resonates in other important UN entities and international forums as well. In the Human Rights Council we speak for the voiceless in an objective and impartial manner. In ILO we promote social justice and dialogue.
Overall, we support multilateralism, rule-based international order, and international cooperation and collaboration to address global issues of common concern.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pursuit of peace has always been humanity’s highest aspiration. Sometimes, peace is understood as the opposite of conflict, violence or war. Certainly war historically has been the fundamental antithesis of peace. But a sound state of peace is more than that.
Albert Einstein says,
“Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order- in short, of government”.
Absence of conflict or war merely provides a condition for the beginning of peace. True peace includes personal wholeness, righteousness, political justice, human dignity and equal opportunity for development in all dimensions- individual, cultural, social, ecological and political.
They all collectively and individually contribute for political peace in a larger organized society. Sense of partnership, collaboration, participation, respect for voice and dissent and legitimacy are the source of political peace. Few exceptional individuals like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior and Nelson Mandela followed non-violence as a means of attaining the goal of political peace.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Development is the prerequisite for peace. Deprivation, lack of basic human needs and underdevelopment fuel dissatisfaction in the society, which eventually invites the conflict. So human centric development is the foundation for sustainable peace. The adoption of the Agenda 2030 was a display of the commitment for inclusive development at its best. The Agenda can be implemented if similar spirit holds at the core of our actions with renewed sense of partnership and each side shouldering the responsibility, to attain the most desired peace in the world.
Achieving the sustainable development goals hinges on resources.
Desire for peace is human nature. However, peace needs continuous nurturing. Conflicts, discords, armaments, animosity breeds wars. Wars become devastating when they are aided and assisted by advanced automated technology. The world has produced enough ammunition, nuclear or otherwise, to destroy the world several times. Display of arms against arms is not a solution to the problem. Neither arms can foster peace. What is the need of the hour is dialogue and understanding. Dialogues enable and nurture greater understanding between and among individuals, communities, leaders, nation States, civilizations and religions. Understanding facilitates dialogues and helps to establish and sustain peace.
All stakeholders have a role to play in promoting peace and understanding between and among nations. Governments, civil society, religious institutions and scholars, academicians, think tanks all can play a role in promoting peace and understanding. Events like this can be useful forum to promote the message of peace. Such an effort carries greater attention when it is held at the birth place of Lord Buddha.
I wish the organizers of this event all success in this endeavor.
I thank you all.