The Baha'i International Community and World Peace
"The Promise of World Peace," a statement addressed to the Peoples of the World by the governing body of the Baha'i International Community, the Universal House of Justice, to mark the occasion of International Year of Peace, opens with words of hope and assurance:
The Great Peace towards which people of good will throughout the centuries have inclined their hearts, of which seers and poets for countless generations have expressed their vision, and for which from age to age the sacred scriptures of mankind have constantly held the promise, is now at long last within the reach of the nations. For the first time in history it is possible for everyone to view the entire planet, with all its myriad diversified peoples, in one perspective. World peace is not only possible but inevitable. It is - the next stage in the evolution of this planet - in the words of one great thinker, 'the planetization of mankind.'
This statement, analyzing the complexities of achieving peace on this planet, was presented officially to the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar, last November. It has also been presented to numerous heads of state around the world, as well as to many government officials at all levels. It addresses the many problems we must resolve before we are able to achieve general and complete disarmament and world peace, considers that alongside collective security, "in essence, peace stems from an inner state supported by a spiritual or moral attitude, and it is chiefly in evoking this attitude that the possibility of enduring solutions can be found." The statement considers likewise the importance of resolving key social and economic issues, which by perpetuating injustice foster disunity, such as racism, the disparity between rich and poor, unbridled nationalism, religious strife. It also calls for the emancipation of women, universal education, and the adoption of an international auxiliary language. It addresses both the responsibilities of governments and peoples in correcting these world conditions.
While expressing the deep Baha'i concern for the problems of the individual and society in our contemporary world, "The Promise of World Peace" not only examines the obstacles to be overcome but makes several proposals that, if implemented, would, we believe take us out from under the shadow of war and destruction, and lead us to a state of peace and harmony on this planet. This condition would then allow the peoples of the world and their governments to build the kind of society in which human beings can express fully their noble potentialities.
The source of optimism we feel is a vision transcending the cessation of war and the creation of agencies of international co-operation....Beyond the initial armistice forced upon the world by the fear of nuclear holocaust, beyond the political peace reluctantly entered into by suspicious rival nations, beyond pragmatic arrangements for security and coexistence, beyond even the many experiments in cooperation which these steps will make possible lies the crowning goal: the unification of all the peoples of the world in one universal family.
The interest of the Baha'i International Community at the United Nations in the area of peace dates to the founding of the UN, when a statement entitled "The Baha'i Peace Programme" was distributed widely among delegates and Non-Governmental Organizations. More recently we participated in the First and Second Special Sessions of the General Assembly on Disarmament, in 1978 and 1982, sharing the Baha'i views on disarmament and peace, both through a brochure, and through an oral statement which we were invited to deliver to the UN General Assembly at its 1982 Session. The Baha'i International Community has co-operated with the UN Centre for Disarmament Affairs, and has participated in the work of the NGO Committees on Disarmament in New York and Geneva, and in NGO conferences and meetings organized by those committees.
When the United Nations proclaimed 1986 as International Year of Peace (IYP), as an occasion for rededication by member states to the goals of the UN Charter, the Baha'i International Community, provided the IYP Secretariate with detailed information on the Baha'i teachings and principles regarding peace, as well as evidence of the efforts of the Baha'i world community for over 100 years to achieve this goal and assured that UN office of wholehearted Baha'i participation in IYP. As evidence of this collaboration, the Baha'i International Community participated in all four UN regional seminars held during 1985 in preparation for IYP, presenting comprehensive statements on the seminar topics of "Preparation for Life in Peace," and on the relationships between peace and disarmament, and between peace and development. In addition the Baha'i International Community took part in several meetings in New York and in Europe organized by the UN to consult with Non-Governmental Organizations on a programme for IYP.
The Baha'i International Community has also followed closely from the beginning the establishment of the University for Peace in Costa Rica, expressing its interest in this most welcome institution for peace education. Both the Baha'i International Community and the Baha'is of Costa Rica have established a warm relationship with the University and its officials, and look forward to contributing to the work of that institution, as it undertakes its important mission for humanity, both the perspective of the Baha'i Writings and the experience of the Baha'i community.
For the commitment of the Baha'i International Community to peace and the unity of humanity is not merely theoretical, but is carried into action daily in the lives of Baha'is and their communities, as expressed in this excerpt from "The Promise of World Peace":
The experience of the Baha'i community may be seen as an example of this enlarging unity. It is a community of some three to four million people drawn from many nations, cultures, classes and creeds, engaged in a wide range of activities serving the spiritual, social and economic needs of the peoples of many lands. It is a single social organism, representative of the diversity of the human family, conducting its affairs through a system of commonly accepted consultative principles, and cherishing equally all the great outpourings of divine guidance in human history....If the Baha'i experience can contribute in whatever measure to reinforcing hope in the unity of the human race, we are happy to offer it as a model for study.