By the grace of good Heavens, we are in September. Since 1982, on very 21st day of each September in every year, the world observes the International Day of Peace; a day “devoted to strengthening the ideas of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples”. This years’ International Day of Peace celebrates the 30th anniversary of the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Right of peoples to Peace and has in this regard, adopted the theme, “Right of Peoples to Peace.”
What a theme! Appropriate, relevant and spot-on. This is certainly a theme to reflect on, first because of it’s congruence with the theme; “The next 50 years, The Africa we want” which was the focus of the 2014 African Development Bank Annual Meeting held here in Kigali-Rwanda. The second reason for this reflection is personal -my nationality. In Rwanda, Peace and Reconciliation are household terms for they are key pillars to all that as a nation, we feel very proud to associate with today, bearing in mind from how far we have come. To marry the two reasons, The Africa or the World we want, will only be a reality if we formulate and implement policies that encourage Peace and Harmony within and among states. We may have great economic emancipation plans for our Nations and Continents, but all these will be in vain without peace for it is not unknown to us that the rage of war can in one day, destroy what generations have built over the years .Meaningful progress in the plans of nations can be only be realized if peace is considered as a mandatory precondition of development and as an enabling impetus in the sustenance of Development and advancement.
But what is this peace and just why is it so important? As global Citizens, what is our conception of peace? Is peace as a concept, limited to the lexical definition of “a state of freedom from disturbance”? Or is it simply (as others would say) the amity caused by the absence of war?
A good majority prefer the above definitions of peace, others however subscribe to the assertion that peace is when we “are able to resolve our conflicts without violence and can work together to improve the quality of our lives”? And yet to others, pace is being calm and safe, caring for one another, having inner peace, having a quiet time, getting along and keeping good friendship. Personally, I agree with all these views and I tend to think that the combination of all these views is what we should call peace. Nonetheless, I must add that good governance is the soil on which peace grows. Fair accesses to and distribution of resources, become the conditions necessary for the germination of the seed of peace and finally, elimination of discrimination and fostering of mutual understanding, tolerance and unity are the fertilizers that help the seed to grow.
The observance of International Day of Peace means more than just an International event to Rwanda. As we celebrate this day, we also remind ourselves as a people of what we have achieved in peace just 20 years after the horrific brutalities which marked the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which more than a Million lives were lost.
As we celebrate this day, we also acknowledge the fact that our development story cannot be told in isolation without Peace and Reconciliation. In so doing, we appreciate the inextricable link between peace and reconciliation on one side and economic development on the other, noting with evidence that just as peace is necessary for development, attainment of development eliminates conflict areas by making life affordable and desirable.
This great day is a reminder to all of us that peace should never perish. It helps us to understand in our own local context that whenever there is peace in a country, it enjoys political stability which creates an enabling environment for both local and international businesses. Wherever there is peace, investors will always come knocking and when there is peace, security is guaranteed to people and property which encourages wealth creation. Peace and reconciliation replace mistrust with trust and help a society to build confidence in team work, replacing animosity with harmony and guaranteeing fairness before the law by punishing corruption and impunity.
How then can Peace miss in our developmental agenda? Blessed International Day of Peace to all of you friends!