0936 GMT July 17, 2018
On the occasion of the International Day of Peace — September 21, 2017 — two scholars Dr. Ilgar Ibrahimoglu Allahverdiyev and Dr. Hans Ucko elaborated on the concept of peace in an interview with The Islamic World Peace Forum (IWPF).
ISLAMIC WORLD PEACE FORUM: Given the slogan of the UN General Assembly this year in line with the International Day of Peace, 'Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All' — with a particular focus on the plight of refugees and migrants throughout the world, what practical measures do you propose to materialize this slogan?
ILGAR IBRAHIMOGLU ALLAHVERDIYEV: Below is my humble opinion regarding the topic raised by you.
By talking about International Day of Peace, in particular, it should first be stressed what paradigm stays in the ground of this occasion.
As can be seen from this topic, the ideological slogan that offered for this date is ‘Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All’. Key factors of this paradigm are as follows:
1. Comprehensiveness of idea;
2. Respect everyone and respect for all;
3. Global security and personal safety;
4. Respect individuals’ dignity, respect groups, societies, states;
5. Rapprochement of states and peoples;
6. The idea of a conscious necessity of integration approaches.
7. Identification of factors that allow us to achieve goals and the factors that put obstacles in the way of achievement.
I believe it is good to focus on No. 7 point. More than anything else, humanity needs mutual trust and equal partnership. There is a huge deformation of reliable partnership and trust issues on the global level.
Since the imperial heritage, the burden of rudimentary consequences that humanity bears, still doesn’t allow us to create international system based on justice, respect and dignity.
The hegemonic forces that are successors of global empires of the past drive the wedge in every possible way into attempts to create a situation that allows us to build the matrix of international relations on more than just concept.
The world should design systems of collegial decision-making and collective security that exclude the domination of short list transnational structures over legal and legitimate communities and organizations.
HANS UCKO: The theme of the UN International Day of Peace 2017 is, 'Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All'. It may sound loke a motto, theme, slogan, mantra, mission objective or vision statement. Easy to say or proclaim, but is there anything beyond the catchphrase or does the theme of 2017 differ from the usual themes? Is it as the French saying goes: “Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose!” The more it changes; the more it’s the same thing! We will register the theme of this year at the same time that we admit and are resigned to the fundamental immutability of human nature and institutions.
It’s all so easy to talk about peace. It’s not new. It has been so throughout the time. Speaking in the name of God, Prophet Jeremiah said: “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace. They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not ashamed, they did not know how to blush.”
Together for peace! Peace can only be achieved together with the other. I may have the most dazzling vision of peace but unless the other embraces it, it will fall by the wayside and be nothing but a dead slogan.
Peace can only be achieved through compromise and realization that we are not independent variables. We are interdependent; we, the other as well as I, arise together.
Those whom we call ‘the others’ are often the result of our own projections and constructions.
These constructions may be different from the way in which others represent themselves. It is important to respect the right of others to self-definition.
To affirm the full dignity of others, empathetic understanding and acceptance of their self-representations, though difficult, is necessary. Together for peace can only be a peace without victory. ... Only a peace between equals can last.
There is a daily prayer for peace in Jewish liturgy, ‘Let there be peace on Earth as it is in heaven’. The rabbis asked, "How is then peace in heaven, since it is to be a model for peace on Earth?" and they wanted to find out about the quality of peace in heaven.
What is the substance of the heavenly peace? They found the answer in the word for 'heaven', which in Hebrew is shamayim. The rabbis construed that two words were hidden in the word shamayim, two words which are each other's absolute opposite: esh, 'fire' and mayim, 'water'.
Peace in heaven is then the living together in unity and communion of two opposites: Fire and water. Water doesn't quench fire. Fire doesn't make the water vaporize. Fire and water are reconciled. There is no separation between fire and water. And yet there is no fusion, no blend.
Peace is not only the absence of war and it is not a static concept. If it is only an ideal, there will be no peace. The Hebrew word for peace is ‘shalom’. Today, it is only a concept or a word of greeting and has become the very opposite of its real meaning. As such, it doesn’t serve the cause of peace. Talking about peace is not enough.
However, the root of ‘shalom’ has to do with shalem, to pay. Peace is costly. One has to make a sacrifice for peace.
There is no peace without an effort. Shalom is not only an ideal to attain but the concrete enjoyment of physical, economic and social well-being. The theme has the keyword: Safety!
But the concept of safety is not enough! In the theme, it stands between respect and dignity, respect, safety and dignity for all!
Life is a life and interdependence, whether we like it or not. Interdependence is more than just living next to each other, as if we all had our own little island. In the end, we cannot live in parallel societies, because we are each other’s life and destiny. We hold some of another's life in our hand.
This is in the smallest of things and sometimes also in matters of life and death. Let me illustrate with an example. You meet a person on the street, who stops you and who asks you ‘What time is it?’ This person has in and through his question handed himself to you. You have two options: Care or destruction. Care: You can look at your clock and tell him what time it is, i.e. you open yourself for him as he opened himself for you through his question.
You show your care for him. Or destruction: You just look away and move on and at worst tell him: Get your own watch!
A priori, we believe each other's words, a priori, we trust each other. It is part of being human. There is an innate respect that comes with being human together with others. Dignity matters. When we trust each other, we put our lives in the hands of the other. When trust is abused, we are devastated, mostly because we see that the other did not receive our trust. You thought you would be met, you thought that you would be respected, that your dignity would be safeguarded and you were deceived.
'Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All' is a theme that is part of the encounter among individuals, communities, countries, regions. It has a message into our time, where no one is an island. As a theme, it is something that accompanies our life together for the sake of our world.
In the light of the objectives and measures of Islamic World Peace Forum in the field of establishing just peace in the world, what measures do you propose for promoting just peace discourse in the world?
ILGAR IBRAHIMOGLU ALLAHVERDIYEV: The Islamic World Peace Forum (IWPF) has got extremely important and significant activity. Discussions, forums, initiatives of all this activity are significant assets toward creation of the new international situation. I think it will be possible for IWPF further rapprochement and coordination of structures of different confessions and ideologies.
Communication capabilities between the various centers of analysis and discussion greatly developed the globalization. This contributes the institutionalization of a just peace in the world.
HANS UCKO: IWPF should become a forum, where people of different religious traditions and convictions meet not to talk at each other but talk with each other on the common challenges they face and where they devise strategies on how to work towards a just peace that is more than words, slogans and proclamations. Through dialogue, the Islamic World Peace Forum should embark upon concrete projects and constructive programs that make obvious that religion can no longer remain a tool for conflict but needs to become an instrument for peace.