A Talk Given At European Peace Conference In Prague On 21st—23rd March 2003

                                                                                         By  VIJAY MEHTA


It is creditable for Chez Peace Society for holding a timely Peace Conference in Prague in these dangerous times. I thank the Chez Society and Dr. Mazurska for inviting me to speak at the plenary session.

Cruise missiles and bunker buster bombs are pounding the streets of Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, killing innocent civilians, children, women and destroying hospitals, bridges and water supplies. Bush is fighting an illegal unjust and unilateral war without the mandate of UN. It is a war for procuring oil, votes for re-election and making profits by reconstruction of the country bombed in to stone age. We want an end to this war by calling a special session of general assembly which will attempt to resolve the crisis in a manner which is consistent with UN charter using the resolution (No. 377a 1950) “Uniting for Peace”. It has been used to stop war in Suez, the Cuba missile crisis and has been used now 10 times. 

We are living in worsening international situation. War is increasingly making life full of fear and uncertainty around the globe .The public is so fed up with the present policies of US, UK and certain other governments that ten million people around the globe took to the streets to become part of the biggest march in history offering the best hope for a peaceful future for mankind.

I will today speak on New World Order, War and Terrorism. The Role of United Nations and Media. The way forward for a sustainable peace. How we can halt further wars and international threats to security paving the way for a peaceful future.

 New World Order, War and Terrorism  

 The New World order or disorder is a world full of disregard & violation for all international laws, United Nations resolutions and Nuclear Weapons treaties. It is a world of unilaterism, pre-emptive or preventive strikes.

 The rationale behind it is that US has the liberty of re-arranging Countries & leaders of the world in tune with Washington’s likes, desires & interests. If it has to bomb other Countries into submission & install puppet regimes, so be it.

US has designs and fantasies of emulating Roman or British Empire all over again. In the words of Ronald Reagan “theirs is the promised land”. This conceit and ambition today rests on the secure base of its democratic culture, matchless wealth and egalitarianism. The belief that they are in God land has given them powerful legitimacy for expansion and intervention. It has encouraged them to confuse their own foreign policy objectives of fervent imperialism with the global good. They have found it hard to accept that their actions have resulted in genocide when they bombed Baghdad, Kabul and Belgrade. It has resulted in hatred or what is known as anti-Americanism and laid foundations for further terrorist acts.

The dangerous consequences of American credo of right to undertake pre-emptive strikes against sovereign states will allow other countries to follow suit. Australian prime Minister John Howard has already stirred a hornets nest in his neighbourhood after the attack on Bali by stating that he will strike any of its near by states if he felt a terrorist attack was in the offing. And Russian president Vladimir Putin had already claimed the right to attack targets in neighbouring Georgia to protect his countries interest in Chechnya. India can strike against Pakistan or the other way around. Both the governments possess nuclear weapons and are vulnerable and ready to deflect public opinion away from domestic problems and rising unpopularity.

The trend towards the New World order is wholly supported by UK, most loyal ally of America. In the Iraq issue (most burning at the moment) UK has supported America by sending troops and producing dossier on the evil nature of Saddam & his regime. President Bush is fully prepared to go for deposing Saddam, the task which his father had left undone.

President Bush has threatened to make the UN irrelevant if it does not toe the line of American policies and it will be free to conduct pre – emptive strikes against other countries. What cement is there to hold the world to broadly accepted norms of conduct and international law. The US alone should not be allowed to run and police the world with proxies and satellites.

Are we to be condemned to a new world disorder. President Bush, is beginning to believe in his own propaganda and has set himself the task of ridding the world of most evil men in the “axis of evil”. There seems to be few checks and balances in the American system to stop him in his tracks.

The Bush administration seems to be forgetting a few lessons of history and the new lessons of modern technology. Empires have risen and fallen depending upon the wisdom of the rulers and the correlation of forces that came to oppose them. Justice and a sense of fair play usually influence the duration of these empires. Injustice perpetrated on the Palestinian people and the self-proclaimed opportunism of US declaring its desire to remain supreme for all time to come are pointers to eventual doom.

 The progress of modern technology has two consequences. For one thing, it telescopes time. If empires lasted for centuries in the past, their longevity has been reduced to decades in the age of the Internet and information technology. Second, as US rudely discovered on September 11, 2001, technology empowers the weak to seek revenge with devastating results . To tackle terrorism the longer term answer can only lie in removing the cause of the great injustices perpetrated on peoples. Whatever religion or faith a nation practises, if a country, particularly the most powerful, loses sight of the moral compass, it will come to grief.

The war on Iraq could become a catalyst for draining of power from UN (United Nations), EU (European Union) and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).It will give US a free hand to wage war on any country without any regard to any international law or treaties.

War on Iraq is illegal, immoral and Unjust. It is illegal as the UN charter gives SC(Security Council) the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security that is “To take affective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats of peace & for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of peace in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, breaches or settlement pf international disputes or a situation which might lead to a breach of peace.” Hence war threat of war, aggression, possession of weapons or even non-compliance of resolutions is no excuse or has no bases to authorise war

War is immoral as attack on innocent civilians, children and women resulting in vast number of casualties cannot be justified. Former US presidents Jimmy Carter & Bill Clinton have accused the Bush administration for rushing in to war and threatening the stability of international law and relations between states. As a result countries like UK and others who are part of ICC (International Criminal Court) waging war against Iraq can render them liable for prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There is no case for regime change, liberating the people or bringing democracy in Iraq as the same could apply to North Korea, Israel Pakistan and several other Arab countries. To be in war with Iraq on these grounds is a recipe for international anarchy, will destabilise middle east, and refuel terrorism.

It has become evident that biggest source of terrorism is the weapons and arms industry. It has killed more people going back in history –Persian, Greek and Roman empires put together then anything else Weapons are a warranty of death. They are immoral and crimes against humanity. It is a source of huge profits for large corporations who are immune to any ethical obligations and scruples except profits for their shareholders.

The present world spending on Arms is around 800bn(Billion US Dollars) out of which US alone spends around 500bn(Billion US Dollars). A small percentage of that spending if converted in savings can make huge improvements for mankind for the preservation of peace and security.

Arms industry moreover are a groundwork for future military dictatorships as is the case with Mabutu of Zaire Pinochet of Chile, Suharto of Indonesia & Stalin of Russia. Weapons to-day are the biggest source of terrorism in the world and their large scale use (Nuclear weapons) can destroy civilisation as we know for ever.

 The Role of United Nations and Media

 UN created after the world war two is the only legitimate body to maintain peace & security in the world. Iraq or any other single issue cannot make it irrelevant. The past debacles in Rawanda and Kosovo where Security Council authorisation was not taken have not been able to make it irrelevant. After the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia the only one body could be entrusted with the responsibility to run the civil administration of Kosovo: was UN.

But when this crisis has passed, the world will still facing (to use Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s phrase) innumerable “problems without passports”, problems of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, of the degradation of our common environment, of contagious disease and chronic starvation, of human rights and human wrongs, of mass illiteracy and massive displacement. These are problems that no one country, however powerful, can solve on its own, and which are yet the shared responsibility of humankind. The UN exists to find these solutions through the common endeavour of all states. It is the only indispensable global organisation in our world.

And no, it is not perfect. It has acted unwisely at times, and failed to act at others; one need only think of the “safe areas” in Bosnia and the genocide in Rwanda for instances of each it has sometimes been too divided to succeed, as appears to be the case in the Security Council today.

The media bears a vital share of the responsibility for this. The cliché about television news is supposed to be: “If it bleeds, it leads”. Today, radio, TV and even the press appear to be working on the presumption that: “If it might bleed tomorrow, it must lead today”. No wonder that, in the single-minded obsession with just one issue on the UN’s vast agenda, a reporter can presume to speak of the UN’s putative irrelevance.

One could well ask the same question about the United Nations. Is there any other institution that brings all the countries of the world together to pursue collectively the security and welfare so essential to our common humanity? This is why I am proud to affirm the UN’s indispensability. The world has to confront the challenges that will remain when Iraq has passed from the headlines.

 The way forward for a sustainable peace 

 Foster links with peace movements in Europe, United States and the rest of the world. Make civil society and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) part of the movement

  1. War is not inevitable and is not in human genes. We should campaign for banning or outlawing war and combating militarism. To deconstruct peoples mind from intolerance and hatred to tolerance and love.
  2. Weapons have no other purpose but to kill people. All manufacture, sale, export and use of arms should be banned. Military budgets of all nations should be restricted to one percent of their gross domestic product as Japan’s after World War II. The eventual goal should be abolition of all manufacture and sale of weapons
  3. The UN should be the supreme decision making body for international peace and security. No single nation however powerful should be able to police the world and act bypassing UN decisions.   

A few of the colossal achievements of UN are in fighting of AIDS, Poverty alleviation, Peacekeeping and security, Protection of human rights, Environment, International law, Social justice, Democracy and good Governance. But these never get filtered to general public owing to negative media coverage.

UN is not perfect. We need to work towards much urgent needed reforms of the UN, which was formed in 1945. The far-reaching reforms should be in the areas of Security Council-changing the veto and membership to reflect equitable geographical distribution of seats, the problem of waste, inefficiency and its constant funding problems.

UN also needs to be accountable, transparent and democratic capable of meeting global challenges of the 21st Century

5.      Education for peace in society-media, schools, universities and politicians should be a priority. Charter of the UN, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice and Citizenship education should become part of everyday life and embedded in our culture.

6.      Campaign to honour and uphold International Law and Treaties—all

Disarmament (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) and Environmental (Rio,           Johannesburg and Kyoto Protocol) agreements should be met. The United Nations millennium 2000 declaration goals and programmes agreed by all Heads of States should be implemented as a matter of urgency.


A recent article in New York Times pointed out that up until now there has been just one superpower-the United States, and that has created a kind of blindness in the vision of the US. But at this point in history there are two superpowers-the other one being merging surging voice of the people of the world, standing up for peace, justice and freedom.

We must remember in this dark moment that we have come a long way. By working for peace around the globe, millions of people have successfully challenged the justness of this war on a world stage. We have persuaded governments to heed their people’s call to peace, and helped the United Nations maintain its integrity. We all have been part of a historic mobilization of the citizens of the globe. It will change everything. And in the end, we will win.

Vijay Mehta MA

Vice-Chairman: Action for United Nations Renewal

Secretary: London CND (Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament)

Editor: INLAP TIME (Institute for Law & Peace)

Founder Member: Non Violent Action Monthly Magazine Email: vijay@anglo-sphere.com