‘The Peace Integration Summit’ with the acronym of CUMIPAZ, annually organized by the GEAP in Latin America

by October 5, 2018 0 comments

The Peace Integration Summit

On the completion of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace (GEAP) in Latin America has decided to create a zone of peace on the Asian continent and come together to follow up of the Asian Relations Conference.

A remarkable initiative organized annually in Latin America by the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace (GEAP) is a conference entitled, ‘The Peace Integration Summit’ with the acronym of CUMIPAZ. Earlier this week, the 2018 Summit was held in Guatemala at which this writer delivered the keynote address. What is particularly significant about the GEAP is the fact that this body consists largely of academics and intellectuals, with a remarkable thinker Dr. William Soto Santiago, as the prime mover. The GEAP has very lofty objectives: “Work towards the improvement, welfare, happiness and peace of the human family and Mother Earth, promoting a global formation of the integral human being and the formation of activists for peace in the framework of universal values and principles, for the defense of Human Rights and the Rights of Mother Earth, through the development of programmes, projects and campaigns aimed at different areas in which humans operate and interact.”

Significantly, we have no initiative of a similar profile in Asia, which fortunately does not have conflicts such as those in several other parts of the world. But tensions are on the increase in the region, as manifested by the recent near collision between the US and Chinese naval ships in the South China Sea. Since Asia now has a growing nuclear arsenal, it is extremely important that we serve the future of humanity by creating an atmosphere and philosophy of peace that guides relations in this region. It was in recognition of this challenge, which Mahatma Gandhi foresaw, that India hosted the Asian Relations Conference during March-April 1947, with leaders from all across Asia as participants.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, then the interim Prime Minister of undivided India, stated on that occasion, “Asia is again finding herself … one of the notable consequences of the European domination of Asia has been the isolation of the countries of Asia from one another…Today this isolation is breaking down because of many reasons, political and otherwise…This Conference is significant as an expression of that deeper urge of the mind and spirit of Asia which has persisted. In this Conference and in this work there are no leaders and no followers. All countries of Asia have to meet together in a common task.” The Asian Relations Conference was clearly a visionary initiative, which for several reasons has not been followed up in substance by the nations in Asia.

Perhaps a greater focus on the Asian identity and creating a region of mutual trust, connected by common concerns and objectives, is now extremely important. It would also be useful to recall that 40 years later in 1987, the Government of India held the Asian Relations Commemorative Conference, which also drew participants from all across Asia. One of the major outcomes of that conference was a consensus to coordinate energy policies across the continent. As a result, with the initiative of a remarkable Foreign Secretary, Muchkund Dubey, the Asian Energy Institute was established under the leadership of Dr. Ali Shams Ardekani, later the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, and this writer.

The Asian Energy Institute, which was a network of energy institutions across Asia, took up as its first challenge the development of a plan for a pipeline to transport the enormous quantity of surplus natural gas from Iran to Pakistan, India and later Nepal as well. This was an extremely attractive option because Iran had found large reserves of natural gas, and the Iranian Government was willing to provide attractive terms and low prices to Pakistan, India, and Nepal for gas supply over a long period. Unfortunately, this visionary initiative was blocked by mutual suspicions and mistrust. Had it been pursued Iran’s place in the global community would have been different and relations between India, Pakistan and Nepal would have been much healthier.

Now that we are in the year of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, India has a unique opportunity to give substance to the memory of that world apostle of peace. It would be relevant to create a zone of peace on the Asian continent and convene a follow up of the Asian Relations Conference during its diamond jubilee year in 2022. There are, undoubtedly, growing tensions which must be contained and will need to be channeled in the direction of peace, good neighborly conduct, and friendship. It would be extremely valuable to take the example of CUMIPAZ and draw on the academic community, forward-looking thinkers and activists in Asia and elsewhere who believe that human society in the 21st century must relentlessly pursue peace in this century.

Preparations should be taken in hand on Gandhiji’s birth anniversary in 2019 by the Indian Government with political leaders, captains of business, academics and think-tanks across Asia to organize a major event that must have an impact on the thinking and actions of societies across Asia so that we become a region of stable peace. In order to ensure that such an event is not merely a talk shop but results in crucial understanding in critical areas of human endeavor across the world and certainly in Asia, it will be useful to structure the diamond jubilee of the Asian Relations Conference into a set of very concrete areas of cooperation.

This means that the next four years have to be spent in an adequate preparation by which we not only ensure clarity in defining the areas where cooperation and constructive engagement would be essential but also involve major Asian leaders such as the presidents of Indonesia, South Korea and Kazakhstan, the prime ministers of Japan, Malaysia and Singapore and others in joining hands with India as partners in the conference.

Perhaps the best way to get started with this would be for a compact but diverse committee to be set up which may be given the responsibility of coming up with a clear plan of action to be debated and discussed by all the stakeholders. Once a plan is in place then action can be initiated perhaps by the middle of next year, which will allow three full years for an initiative of this nature, placing India at the center of peace in Asia. Also, this will be held as a fitting tribute to Gandhiji’s vision and commitment, which has even greater significance and relevance today.

(The writer is former chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2002-15)

Writer: RK Pachauri

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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