Peace and security are the engines that drive all other activities that make life worth living. Economic activities thrive only in an atmosphere of peace. So peace from the lowest cadre to the topmost is a must have, and this goes hand-in-hand with security. Where there is no peace, therefore, suffice it to say there is no life. International diplomacy which hitherto lacked the political will to always calm the nerves of the member states of the United Nations has contributed immensely to the constant rise of tensions among the various countries due to the human rights abuses that pervade the atmosphere and carried out with no regard for the relevant laws governing the rights of people to live with dignity and justice.
Most leaders in some of the member states of the United Nations who happen to be elected into offices through a democratic process have for a long time jettisoned the sacrosanct place of the social contract, which is a platform on which the wheels of democracy rotate. The situations in most of the member countries, especially the developing countries with particular reference to the African continent for instance, embrace democracy, but with leaders who after emerging from a process of democracy more often than not turn themselves to autocrats. This accounts for the various coups that took place one after another in Africa and in countries like Mali, Senegal, and Sudan and other member countries where insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and agitations by ethnic groups for self-determination are on-going with tensions on the increase.
Ethiopia is currently in a civil war and there are other countries too who are experiencing one problem or the other. The case of Syria was brought to the front burner in one of the United Nations daily briefings. A question was put forward by one of the speakers saying that if the opportunities are presented before you to save the life of an innocent without you having to risk your own life, will you do it. The answer was in the affirmative, “yes.” That question is directed by implication to the United Nations Security Council on how those concerned feel about the laid-back posture of the organization, especially in matters that need urgent attention to either prevent it from happening at all or try to avoid further escalation, especially the negative effects.
This calls for preventive diplomacy as opposed to curative. In most of the member countries who claim to be in democracy, the way things are done and government-run has hindered the flow of democratic dividends to the people and this is as a result of the mistrust between the central and the peripheral leaders and the followers. The saying that prevention is better than a cure is a dictum and gives credence to the truth that “a stitch in time saves nine.” Quick intervention on the international level understandably will follow the template that is on ground, and this requires the intervention of the regional organizations of the United Nations for proximity and administrative convenience as well as effectiveness. This chain has constituted itself as a bottleneck, which rather than guarantee expeditious interventions what obtains is the escalation of torture with impunity in most of the countries.
It is very important to state that constant intervention via information transfer, networking with the regional organizations, and on a regular basis with a clear goal in mind and a mandate with it will help in checkmating the lackluster and lackadaisical attitude of the various regional bodies. If strong statements like the one that the United States has just made to China regarding human rights abuses by deciding not to allow any of the American government officials to attend Beijing 2022 Olympics are what the leaders of the member countries, especially in the African continent, are receiving to checkmate their antidemocratic styles of leadership where the followers bear the brunt, in no distant time, the word tyranny will soon disappear from the dictionary of the most vulnerable leaders in Africa. A lot needs to be done to correct the imbalance going on in the leadership styles between leaders in both the developed and the developing countries.
It is almost getting into limelight the suspicion that probably the lack of drive for preventive diplomacy is deliberate. It is incontrovertible that identity labeling happens both here and there, but when it becomes obvious that identity is being weaponized on the international level for the purpose of creating a preconceived gap between those in need of help and the helpers, then comes the place of negligence and insensitivity. Lives can be saved when actions, desired and deserved, are carried out in a timely fashion and following the rules of engagement that guarantee justice for all and human dignity.
On a final note, it is not just a matter of expediency, it is urgent that all hands go on the deck to prevent what is preventable. This does not apply to international leadership alone. It affects all, from local to national, and from national to international, wherever peace is not negotiable, preventive diplomacy also becomes indispensable.
“Kings have long arms, but misfortune longer. Let none think of themselves as out of reach.”–Benjamin Franklin
Let’s nail down the point of the necessity for quickness in our response to the ground as we conclude that where you cannot give your arms, you better not give your hands. Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change in relation to our responses as a people and the aftermath are enough for the wise.
Samuel ‘Tunji Adeyanju