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

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.