All Things Considered
Religion, Peace and Human Rights
The International Day of Peace ("Peace Day") is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. On BBC Radio Wales on Sunday 16 September on its religious programme “All Things Considered” presented by Rev Roy Jenkins the Chair of Wyndham Place Charlemagne Trust Keith Best was joined by Dr. Gladys Geniel, sociologist of religion and Research Fellow of the Senator George Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Prof. Urfan Khaliq, Professor of Public International and European Laws, Cardiff University and The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches as a panel discussing the meaning and issues of peace.
It was agreed that peace is more than the absence of war – Keith Best described it as a set of values, rules and protocols by which locally, nationally and internationally people can live in harmony exercising the human rights enshrined in various instruments, Prof Khaliq felt that it was the norm and Rev Tveit described it as God-given. All agreed that we must work at it and that it is not a natural state – inherent in humanity is the propensity for conflict which must be tamed.
The threats to peace, how it can be policed and conflict averted, questions of extremism and tolerance were examined. We have moved from a position of tolerating difference to one of respecting it. Increasingly, the causes of conflict will be over natural resources (especially water rights such as the dispute between Bangladesh and India) and borders (taking account of how they were formed through territorial aggrandisement, flawed treaties and decolonisation such as the borders along lines of longitude and latitude which was the legacy of the British in Africa) – and most of the current conflicts whether in the Middle East or Kashmir or Korea are about borders which cut across traditional ethnic, linguistic and cultural entities. What is the role of religion? It can be important not least in leading to negotiation but religion also can be a source of conflict: although Islam is a peaceful religion its name and that of Allah is invoked by terrorists and extremists; the crusades and “just war” is in historic living memory. A lack of appreciation and understanding of others is a principal source of conflict and peace cannot be separated from justice.
The full half-hour podcast can be listed to here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0000f6z or downloaded