Realizing Peace and Security, Human Rights, and
Development upon the Foundation of Conscience
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze
Vice-President of Association of World Citizens
President of the Federation of World Peace and Love
Zhang-men-ren of Tai Ji Men
September 21, 2017
It is with special meaning that we have gathered here today to discuss the important issues confronting the world on this International Day of Peace. World peace has become an even more distant goal to reach in today’s geopolitical situations, and humanity and the Earth are like at opposite ends of a tilting scale that has an increasing possibility of falling apart. However, we will hold onto any chance for change as long as there is still hope. The common destiny of humanity will be improved only if we act now for change.
In 1945, the UN Charter established the three founding pillars of the UN system: human rights, peace and security, and development. Since then, these pillars have provided the framework for the UN to tackle global challenges and crises. As former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said, “Long-term peace and security cannot exist without human rights for all. Sustainable development is impossible without peace and security.” I would argue that conscience lies in the core of the three pillars and glues the three pillars together to shape the new paradigm of international conflict resolutions. Conscience breeds better protection for human rights. Respect for human rights has become increasingly essential to maintaining international peace and security. Social and national development will only follow when peace and security is assured.
This year’s theme for the International Day of Peace is: “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All,” and H.E. António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, stresses, “There is more to achieving peace than laying down weapons. True peace requires building bridges, combating discrimination and standing up for the human rights of all the world’s people.” For humanity’s common and long-term interests, we should discuss how members of civil society should assist one another to respect and practice human rights through deep thought and brainstorming.
In today's world, with widespread conflicts, discrimination, chaos, and heightened sense of being lost, it is clear that we still have a lot more to learn and need to take immediate actions to achieve our goal of sustaining peace and security. Preventing conflicts from breaking out in the first place is the best investment we can make. In this regard, inspiring and awakening the innate conscience within people's hearts is the best course of action.
Nature has a tendency to re-balance itself. The chaos, conflicts, and changing climate patterns are the results of the balancing forces within the universe. This natural re-balancing in the universe through exchanges of positive and negative energies is deeply tied to the state of people's hearts. Traditional Chinese philosophy holds that people are a small universe within a bigger universe in which everyone is an indispensable part. An individual's thoughts and actions have the power to impact the greater world through the inter-connectedness among world citizens. Our thoughts and actions have the potential to magnify themselves as more of us are engaged in spreading them. This is the cause-and-effect relationship at work. The depression, anxiety, and fear in our hearts are the reflections of the degrading natural environment. More negative thoughts and ill-minded actions from more people will put us in a perilous and ever-degrading living environment. Therefore, the first step to restore and recreate a sustainable living environment for all is to awaken the positive energy of conscience within everyone's heart. When we hold this key to changing the world, we will be blessed to have the mercy of Mother Nature. The rhythm of nature will echo the state of our hearts, which is guided by our conscience.
Through inclusiveness, respect, and sustainability, the energy of conscience can fortify the UN’s three pillars--human rights, peace and security, and development. Everyone is endowed with conscience. Deep inside the different skin colors is a heart aspiring for love and peace. Our appearances, our customs, and our cultural heritages could vary dramatically. But at the core of the diversity is one heart that we share. This is what makes us a human being. Therefore, we should embrace one another as brothers and sisters to create an inclusive society. Whether in times of prosperity or insecurity, we should resist the temptation to regard others as "different people.” We have a shared responsibility to create peace and prosperity so that we can share the resulting affluence together. If we do not take on the shared responsibility, we will suffer from the collapse of the social fabric together. No one will emerge as a winner in an exclusive society.
The arms race is the way to separation and exclusiveness while brotherhood and fraternity is the pathway to inclusiveness. No one would agree that separation and exclusiveness will lead to peace and security. Conscience inspires wisdom, and wisdom leads to health and wealth. Conscience, wisdom, culture, education and economy are the essentials to change the world and achieve sustainable development. Lasting peace and security will only be realized when every individual is included in our common efforts to build peace. Only then can people of the world share the benefits of peace, security, and development.