Skip to main content

World Social Justice Day: Xenophobia and jingoism seem to be on the rise across the globe as never before

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
“Preventing Conflict and Sustaining Peace through Decent Work” is the theme of the 2017 World Social Justice Day, which will be observed on February 20th. As a justification of the theme the UN lists the following objectives:
(i) to highlight the importance of employment-centred strategies and programs and their contribution to international efforts to prevent conflicts, sustain peace, build resilient societies and promote social justice;
(ii) to explore the intersectionality of employment, peace and social justice across the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development; and 
(iii) to expand knowledge sharing and collaboration with the UN system and other key stakeholders on effective strategies for peace, social justice and development.
Both the theme and the objectives are certainly laudable! Wars and conflicts have held centre-stage across the globe in the last few years. It has cost the world enormously in every sense of the word. 
With over 65 million people as refugees or internally displaced and with numbers growing – the need and importance to prevent conflict and to ensure sustainable peace should necessarily be topmost on the World Agenda. Providing ‘decent work’ (as the UN puts it) is a key social justice factor that could lead to a more sustainable global peace.
The moot point to be considered is whether those who control the destinies of nations today can honestly demonstrate the political will towards the realisation of the theme. In a concept note for the day, the UN says:
“Peaceful and inclusive societies, as well as decent work and equitable growth, are key priorities of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda states that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security and encourages member States to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights.”
An ideal certainly not negotiable or debatable; but several of the world leaders do not seem to be on the same page! Political leadership in many countries today seem to doing exactly the opposite. The US President is keen on building walls and keeping out even legitimate refugees and immigrants. The Palestinians are forced to live in a hostile environment, since Israel just does not pay heed to world opinion. No one seems to be serious in preventing and ending wars and conflicts. Why would they? 
Many of them are conveniently tied up to the profiteering military- industrial establishment. The only way to stop wars, as everyone knows, is to halt the production of arms and ammunition; to make disarmament and denuclearisation a reality. 
Tragically, the spending on military warfare has been escalating in most countries (for example, India’s ‘defence’ budget!); besides, spending in the social sector like on health, education and the creation of employment (or as the UN says ‘decent work’) is drastically decreased.
Every effort must be made to ensure ‘decent work’ – for those who need it. This would entail ensuring that the rights of the workers are respected with a just wage, reasonable working hours, social security and other benefits. 
One should also make sure that the refugees and other displaced are not exploited. Unfortunately today social discrimination and exclusion; xenophobia and jingoism seems to be on the rise as never before. 
India is in the midst of an election season. The divide-and-rule campaign, by sections of the political class is a blatant human rights violation. The primary objective of winning an election is no longer about serving the people, but rather of how one can selfishly accumulate more power and wealth. 
As said earlier, the numbers of refugees and IDPs continue to grow: from Syria to South Sudan; the world witnesses the suffering of the Rohingyas of Myanmar and the Yezidis of Iraq who face genocide. 
Be it the child soldiers of Colombia or those who labour in the sweatshops of China, there are today, millions of children who are deprived of their childhood. Human trafficking pays rich dividends to the unscrupulous and other vested interests. 
 In the midst of such a grim and complex reality, can one actually talk of preventing conflict and sustaining peace and much more, providing decent work particularly to the refugee, to the migrant and to the displaced?
It is ten years since World Social Justice Day was launched in 2007 and it comes as a very powerful reminder to all that, “social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. 
We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.”
What is certainly heartening , is that the concept note this year provides a frame-work emphasizing that, “for communities and individuals, participation in the reconstruction can provide job creation and initial income, skills and entrepreneurship development that are essential means for recovery and development, confidence building and promotion of equality and social justice. 
Employment is key in reaching out to young people to help build more resilient societies as well as vital in reintegrating crisis affected societies and specific groups such as former combatants, refugees, IDPs, returnees, and provide opportunities for the most vulnerable in fragile, conflict and disaster settings”.
In doing so a tone is set: that the world leaders need to get their act together as soon as possible; to prevent conflict and in no way exacerbate it; to promote peace and ensure that it sustains and above all, to realise that providing necessary decent work to all, especially for the youth will go a long way in establishing a more just and equitable world. 
The right notes, the right tone- hopefully, it will ultimately become music for those who matter!
---
*Indian human rights activist, currently based in Lebanon, engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Middle East on advocacy and communications

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”