Seeds of Peace graduates from around the world gathered to participate in a conference on “Uprooting Hatred and Terror” in November, 2001. The conference coincided with the United Nations’ General Assembly meetings, and represented the first time that Seeds jointly interjected their voice into the debate over violence and terrorism.
Youth delegations representing the Middle East, Balkans, Cyprus, India and Pakistan, exchanged perspectives on the root causes of hatred and violence in and across communities, with particular focus on the roles of the media, pop culture, education, economic disparity, safety and security, religion, and government. On Thursday, November 15, 2001, the youth delegates accepted and presented the Charter on Uprooting Hatred and Terror to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The nearly week-long conference in New York City included a trip organized by Mayor Giuliani’s office and afforded participants the opportunity to interact with prominent leaders in government, media, business, and academia, including Her Majesty Queen Noor, numerous Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors, Chevy Chase (on violence in film), Farooq Kathwari, Frank G. Wisner, author Karen Armstrong and many others. For more details of each day’s events, please see the daily recaps below.
Saturday, November 10: The conference opens with a welcome to the Seeds by John Wallach, Bobbie Gottschalk, and Tim Wilson. Committees meet for the first time to explore the roles of media, pop culture, education, religion, principles of government, economic disparity, safety and security, and guiding principles in making this a safer or more dangerous world. The delegates are addressed by a panel of expert speakers and return to their committees to continue debate.
Sunday, November 11: Delegates start the day at brunch with Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan. Her Majesty addresses the delegates at an ecumenical service officiated by leaders of faith from around the world. Delegates share a private meeting with Palestinian Authority official Nabil Shaath. Richard Berman, president of Manhattanville College, hosts the delegates for dinner, with a keynote address by Aaron Miller of the U.S. State Department.
Monday, November 12: Expert speakers, including Jerrold Post, Farooq Kathwari, and Robert Hormats, address delegates at the morning plenary session. Delegates continue drafting resolutions in committee meetings.
Tuesday, November 13: Delegates are addressed by the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Egypt, and an American Ambassador to India and Egypt. Mayor Guiliani’s office escorts delegates to the site of the former World Trade Center. Delegates continue committee meetings. Delegates spend an evening at the theater.
Wednesday, November 14: The Foreign Ministers of Jordan and Israel, along with actor Chevy Chase and author Karen Armstrong, address the delegates at the morning plenary session. The delegates visit the United Nations for an afternoon briefing, and continue committee meetings. After final committee sessions, delegates come together for a farewell celebration.
Thursday, November 15: Delegates convene for the final plenary session and the Report of Committees on the Draft Charter. The International Youth Conference on Uprooting Hatred and Terror formally closes with the presentation of the Charter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.
Charter on Uprooting Hatred & Terror
The Charter on Uprooting Hatred and Terror is the work of all 120 youth delegates, representing the eight conference committees (Declaration of Principles, Media, Education, Religion, Economic Disparity, Religion, Safety & Security, and Popular Culture).
|Declaration of Principles »
Committee on Media »
Committee on Education »
Committee on Religion »
|Committee on Economic Disparity »
Committee on Principles of Governing »
Committee on Safety & Security »
Committee on Popular Culture »
Declaration of Principles
We, Seeds of Peace, young people representing 22 war-ravaged nations, hereby declare that we are tired of hatred, violence and terror. At Seeds of Peace Camp, we ascended together to the peak of appreciation that peace is possible. We entered Camp full of stereotypes and prejudices against our enemy; after three exhilarating weeks of coexistence, we returned home with an understanding of the other side and acceptance of our common humanity. We learned that we are strong together.
In our home countries, by contrast, we have grown up in tense, fearful environments. We have lost loved ones and seen our sense of security and normality in life shattered. The sight of humanity reduced to rubble on September 11 served as a terrible reminder of the tragedies we have witnessed in our lives.
In the wake of so many tragedies, we have come together to search for enduring solutions to hatred, terror and violence. We define hatred as the wish that another human being or human group not exist, or that their existence be filled with suffering. The common physical expression of hate is violence, the intentional use of aggressive force to inflict pain upon other human beings. Terror is the organized implementation of violence against civilians in order to spread fear and achieve political or ideological goals.
In order to achieve a society free of hatred, terror, and violence, we must establish and follow basic principles of human interaction which create an environment of security, absence of fear and respect for one anothers opinions and ways of life. Highest among these are the sanctity of life and the preservation of human rights and basic freedoms as recorded in the Charter of the United Nations. The greatest possible level of social equality, coexistence and compassion are guidelines to which we must aspire, with our ultimate goal to live in harmony, recognizing our uniqueness and difference in culture and religion but acknowledging our mutual humanity. In politics, we advocate the eradication of policies which undermine these principles, which value land or money above human life or turn citizens into the tools of government. In society, we move to eradicate all forms of racism, sexism or extremism which deny the equality and humanity we have learned to recognize in each other.
Do not dismiss this as youthful idealism. Many of us live in places where killing and humiliation, poverty and homeless refugees are commonplace. We are surrounded by an atmosphere of hatred created by unjust realities . Violence does not begin when a gun is pointed or a rock is thrown, but in the hate-filled graffiti and political posters decorating the walls of our cities. When this hate takes physical expression in acts of terror, the victims often call for revenge, perpetuating a cycle of violence.
Yet at Seeds of Peace, we have experienced real equality, unity, understanding & joy. Having faced this stark contrast, we now refuse to accept what is when we know what can be, if we truly implement these principles in our homes and our hearts. We refuse to be victims. We know it is possible to redirect human passions, even calls for revenge, toward the positive goal of creating peace.
In order to address in depth these issues, we have created seven committees to analyze elements of society that have in the past been used as catalysts to spread hate, violence and terror: Education, Religion, Media, Pop Culture, Safety & Security, Economic Disparity, and Principles of Government. Each committee worked to identify the ways in which these elements of society can be changed to create an environment which fosters peace.
There are people who call us traitors because we recognize our enemies as equal human beings—but we are true patriots. Instead of creating dead-end situations for our nations, we are putting an end to an endless cycle of suffering. We are working together for peace, the only way to achieve optimal living conditions for our own countries and people. We were raised in societies which taught us to hate each other. Despite that, we have united here to fight together for a better future for us all, in the name of the dead and the generations to come. In succeeding here, we prove to ourselves and our governments that a solution exists and peace is not impossible.
Statement of the Committee on Media
Media (print, audio, and visual) are forms of organized and constructed communication. They greatly influence public opinion and with the power they possess, media either encourage or discourage violence and hatred. Media are profit oriented and will therefore use violence or offensive language even in times of peace, in order to provide stimulus and attract consumers. Therefore, they have a major role in creating or enhancing tension or a negative atmosphere.
In times like these, of war and extreme conflict, media tend to use elements of propaganda. They are nationalistic and demonize the enemy while increasing compassion towards the side that they choose to support. They also act to eliminate a moderate path and polarize the opinions of the masses. Information is distorted into propaganda and creates a situation in which the people do not have enough information to think critically about the circumstances. During times of intense situations, the enemy becomes faceless, and one becomes desensitized to violence.
Media reflects upon people and how they think and wish to express themselves. This expression cannot be taken away from the people, nor controlled by an authority. We would like to suggest a few changes. Media in general should be objective, responsible, interactive, mediated, available internationally, humanitarian, and respectful as it pertains to social responsibilities. The media should portray our common humanity. It should do this by reporting more human interest stories which encourage empathy and instill understanding between people. Media needs to understand the critical role it plays and behave responsibility, serve as a voice of morality, assert different values, and promote an environment that stimulates thinking. Media should be a platform for all voices to be heard and show us all sides of an issue or conflict. Only a free and independent media with integrity and humanity can assure the credibility and efficiency of this institution and show a fair and truthful picture of this world.
Statement of the Committee on Education
Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote about education: The function of education … is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.
One week ago, fourteen seeds began a journey of growth. We learned that a simple task of making a statement about education actually educated us in itself. In our discussions we shared information, we challenged that information, and then we intensively and critically examined how to apply all that we learned.
What we gained from this process was a first hand understanding of the important role education can play in uprooting hatred and terror. What is education, we asked ourselves? Education is an ongoing process of receiving, processing, and applying information in our lives. Through education we gradually discover ourselves and create a path that leads to success. We acknowledged that formal education taught in school is intertwined with media, the internet, society (including social interactions), religion, and family heritage, all of which create our world of education.
For the sake of facilitating the task of this committee, we will be drawing an artificial line between formal and the other sources of education, which are being addressed by our peers in some of the other committees. We will be specifically looking at that part of formal education that we believe promotes violence in our societies, such as history and social studies. Formal education shapes the way people think, which in turn influences their actions and whether or not they resort to violence.
Education might promote a sense of hatred towards the other side in two ways: a) by cultivating a feeling of superiority that may wrongly legitimize acts of violence and discrimination against others, and b) by promoting a sense of victimization and a feeling of being discriminated against which may lead to a need for revenge that justifies acts of violence.
Education may instill in students those feelings that lead to hatred in two ways, one obvious and the other subtle. Obvious Ways: Teachers and textbooks may openly preach hatred and the dehumanization of the other side. In addition, we as Seeds have had teachers who have criticized us for our participation in Seeds of Peace and for having friends from the other side. Some of us have even been labeled traitors by our teachers. Subtle Ways:
- Biased Textbooks: Textbooks that are biased, by their negative representation of the other side/the enemy, provoke a sentiment of vengeance and violence. The perspectives that such books provide lack a balanced picture of events, which result in nurturing a positive image of our side and an unflattering view of the other side. A biased text blames the other side for initiating conflicts while describing the actions of our side as reactions. Furthermore, the manipulation of language by using different words to describe the same acts, such as our soldiers are freedom fighters who kill the enemy while their soldiers are terrorists who murder us. They also convey the idea that we are always right.
- Glorification of War: Wars and war heroes are glorified as if they are the central part in a nation’s history, which could suggest that war is the key solution to disputes with other nations.
- Excluded History: Biased textbooks tend to exclude parts of history that show the other side in a positive light or that may demonstrate negative actions committed by our side. In addition such books don’t draw attention to periods of time when conflicting countries shared peaceful relations.
- An Exclusive Focus on One’s Own History: The lack of knowledge of the world at large leaves no room for critical analysis which ultimately leads us to believe everything we’re told, which makes it easy to hate others.
Both forms of biased education, the obvious and the subtle, contribute to hatred, violence, and terror. But in the obvious way, the student can understand that he’s being preached at and can choose what he wants to believe in. But when dealing with the subtle ways, students are unaware of the fact that they are being influenced and the feelings that makes them hate the other side is in their subconscious. Both forms of influence create a gradual process of brainwashing: In order to uproot hatred, violence and terror, we feel it is imperative that our textbooks be rewritten in a neutral manner. That the content be presented in unbiased language and the facts be accurate, and that we have the exposure and opportunity to evaluate a variety of sources of information. Additionally, we feel that it is necessary that our educators be knowledgeable, respectful and unbiased. The many obstacles that we overcame in our journey of exploring education led us to conclude that education can be an essential tool for removing violence and terror from our societies.
Statement by the Committee on Religion
As a group, we are composed of 11 nationalities. We include believers and non-believers and represent five faiths: Christianity (of different denominations), Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. We believe that all religions, in their essence, are positive forces and convey a message of love. We all agree that religion advocates love towards all humanity, regardless of faith, race or gender. We envision a world in which, instead of being exploited, religion and religious institutions are a source of tolerance, peace and respect. The promotion of such religious ideals will foster harmony within a society, as well as on a worldwide basis.
Furthermore, we want to achieve acceptance of one another. We encourage all people, regardless of their own beliefs, to respect other people’s religions and beliefs. In addition, we are expecting to establish the freedom of choice of whether to believe or not to believe and safe practice of that choice.
- All religions emphasize the importance of peace as a basic religious value.
- We must keep in mind that the core message of each religion espouses love. This love is meant to be extended to all of humanity.
- The holy scripts, known to us, support tolerance and respect of each of the other religions.
- All religions known to us encourage helping those who are in need.
- All religions known to us encourage one to have a sense of self-respect and dignity.
Religion as a Tool of Manipulation: Religion can be manipulated by groups or individuals and used as a tool to attain or achieve certain goals or motives. Some religious leaders, politicians, rich people, charismatic leaders, educators, communities and media at times resort to manipulation of religion as a tool to carry out their agendas. Often they desire to gain or maintain power, money, keep control over people and enforce unjust tradition. Methods include distorting or misinterpreting religious texts, as well as, brainwashing and threatening, with the purpose of promoting hatred and violence. Many people have built up hatred or fear of others. When they are convinced that their religion sanctions violence against those they hate or fear, violence becomes legitimate in their eyes.
People are made vulnerable to manipulation by factors, which are beyond their control. Among these are poverty, discrimination, oppression, lack of critical thinking skills and lack of religious freedom. Religion has the potential to divide people belonging to different faiths as well as dividing people within the same religion who perform different practices. Furthermore religion has the potential to create discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, social and political status or sexual orientation.
Solutions and Suggestions: Clergymen are significant, because they effect billions of people, especially those in whose lives religion plays a great role.
- Clergy should promote tolerance, peace and respect for all social groups through holy texts and in other ways.
- Clergy should encourage interfaith dialogues.
- Clergy should spread constructive religious education which does not restrict the freedom of others, order to prevent manipulation and misinterpretation.
- Clergy should encourage people with wealth and power to share with people in need.
- Clergy should lead by example.
Attitudes of society towards religion play a great role in the lives of individuals and the functioning of countries.
- Complete freedom of belief should be advocated in a society. Families, schools and societies should promote tolerance, respect and acceptance for all faiths.
- People should encourage each other to acquire knowledge about other religions and beliefs.
In order to reach the greatest number of people, the government is essential as it is the primary policy maker and policy enforcer.
- Government should prevent religious manipulation by establishing equality and a sense of social security, though education and social welfare institutions.
The rights of the religious minorities should be protected.
Statement by the Committee on Economic Disparity
Economic disparity is a global concern that frequently fuels hatred, violence, and terror. Having drawn upon our own experiences in our countries, we have concluded that the great financial differences between nations, socio-economic classes, members within the same class, and in a family cause unequal access to resources and the failure to fulfill the basic necessities of life. Resources imply connections, money, and information. Additionally, basic necessities include adequate nutrition, water, shelter, healthcare, education, employment, legal identity, and respect.
Equal access to resources and the fulfillment of these necessities create equal opportunities. However, without equal opportunities the poor feel deprived after seeing the potential they cannot reach, and feel they live in unjust societies. This economic disparity leads to feelings of inferiority, humiliation, and frustration. As a result, the desperation caused by these negative feelings will lead people to turn to violence and terror as their last resort.
Basic Necessities: Every single individual who calls him/herself a citizen of this world, regardless of class, race, sex, nationality or religious belief, has the right to the following: healthcare, education, nutrition and shelter, and legal identity. These rights cannot and must not be denied as they make up the very essence of survival.
- Healthcare: Every citizen whose income is lower than a certain level should have access to free or reduced (in price) medicine, and/or medical treatment.
- Education: Free, public education must be compulsory until high school, after which scholarships should be offered to deserving students regardless of class. If higher education is not possible, job assistance should be the duty of the educational institution.
- Nutrition and Shelter: Social agencies must exist to make sure hunger or homelessness is not a cause of frustration and feelings of disparity and must provide food, shelter and employment.
- Legal Identity: To ensure healthcare, education, welfare services, and proper recognition as a legal citizen, birth certificates and passports must be rendered essential to all people of the country.
Alleviating Economic Disparity—Aid & Assistance: All people are responsible for each other. Therefore, we call on all countries to join in a global effort to minimize the economic disparities within human society. It is our duty, as well as privilege, as citizens of the world, to cooperate in order to bring prosperity to each other. It is, therefore, that we call for an increase in aid to nations in need, by all who can. This is not only a human responsibility, but also a legitimate self-interest that produces economic viability and security. The interest lies in the connection between economic disparity and the outburst of all forms of violence. Attacks of terror and hatred as we have witnessed throughout history, and in our own lives, might be prevented if the right measures are taken to guarantee people all over the world their basic necessities.
We suggest that the aid is allocated from government to government and through existing international bodies for that purpose. There is a major responsibility on the shoulders of the assisting authorities to make sure that the aid will reach the people and areas in need, and will not be abused in inappropriate ways. As we know from our own life experience, many times the money finds its way to the wrong hands, especially under corrupt regimes. This responsibility lies on both the donor and the recipient.
It is most important that the world join in an effort to dramatically increase the aid that is given today. It is not sufficient and more financial assistance is needed in order to make a real change. The assistance must be constructive in order to develop an independent nation and healthy economy, and not a dependent, unstable nation. We have a great opportunity to create a win-win situation, in which social and financial gaps will be minimized and safety and security will be heightened in the process.
Private Investment: Private investment from multinational corporations is essential to minimizing economic disparity. Multinational corporations have the moral responsibility, as international companies, to improve the economic situation of developing countries. Respecting the local culture and people is critical to fostering a healthy relationship between the corporation and the country. Private investment is important because it creates real economic opportunities in developing countries– building new markets, creating employment opportunities, infusing technology, and developing infrastructure. While in some cases, these corporations have been perceived as a destructive force in developing nations, they can have a positive impact without being intrusive to the culture.
Conclusion: As long as there remain people anywhere who lack the basic necessities, there will be no chance for them to have a viable and fulfilled life, a situation that is more than likely to foster violence. We are well aware that economic disparity will always exist, but we cannot allow it to engulf our world with the violence it breeds; simply because doing that will mean giving up a better and safer life for ourselves, delegates from 19 different countries, who know and recognize the pain and terror of violence from our own homes.
Statement by the Committee on Principles of Governing
We, young people from different regions of conflict around the world, have seen how government plays a role in contributing to pain and grief in conflict. We have experienced intolerance leading to terror and destruction in our own homes, and more and more people are suffering every day in many other parts of the world.
We outlined four crucial areas which tend to be problematic in governmental structure: representation, human rights, freedom of expression and education. We determined that improvement in these areas is necessary to combat the cycles of violence and hatred so prevalent today. We believe that these ills can be remedied because we ourselves have confronted the issues and the roots of terror, confronted our prejudices and struggled to let go of them, and we know that peace is possible.
Representation: Every individual has a right to be represented in the government through a fair elective system. Representation is the path to fulfill the people’s personal and collective needs. If a government lacks the following, then this central function is lost, thus leading to frustration and anger which are likely to build up and erupt into violence:
- The ability to eliminate corruption
- Representatives who are qualified by having knowledge of governmental systems, an understanding of the people’s needs, the ability to listen and translate ideas into actions and awareness of the changing needs of the people
- Accountability—reciprocal, continuous communication through different mediums. A structure that attempts to allow all people to be represented fairly and proportionally
Human Rights: Violation of human rights by the government leads to violence. Human rights include: the right to existence, the right to safety, the right to free expression, the right to pursue most fulfilling lifestyle possible. These rights must be granted as a whole, one is not more important than the other and one person’s rights cannot be sacrificed for the sake of another’s.
Human rights are the basic and essential needs of people and define one’s social identity. A main responsibility of a government is to secure the fulfillment of its citizens’ human rights. Violation of human rights can take the form of active abuse or passive indifference. Active abuse is a situation where a government treats a certain sector of society as subhuman or inferior through different applications of the law, through the direct constitution of a discriminatory law, or through state-sponsored violence and denial of necessities. Passive indifference is a situation where a government does not address the well-being of the people or disregards the calls of the people for reform in their treatment.
Infringement of human rights provokes anger and frustration. In the absence of necessities basic to survival, individuals or groups would resort to all means in order to reach these necessities. In this case, violence may be directed towards the government- the source of the problem- or external entities. Furthermore, if people are not aware of the source of the problems, denial of their human rights will result in blind aggression.
Freedom of Expression: Freedom of expression is the right of all individuals to express them-selves about anything. There should be no limit to this expression as long as it does not violate human rights, public safety or laws created in accordance with these principles. The restriction of this freedom may eventually lead to violence. For instance, if the government does not allow individuals to practice religion, to criticize the government, to protest, to use the media or the arts, then people will feel that their individuality is not respected and their pride hurt. This will cause great frustration in people. The feeling of frustration will increase as freedom of expression continues to be denied and, naturally, people will express this feeling. It will most likely, for lack of other options, be channeled to violent actions.
Education: A government has the power to shape the mindset and educational environment of its society. The government wields this power in the forms of formal education in schools, the circulation of propaganda, and the restriction of access to information. Through these means, a government is capable of generating and galvanizing intolerance, hatred and prejudice. A government’s interest in promoting these sentiments can be the creation of unity and national identity, the achievement of specific political goals, or the channeling of frustration away from the government.
In educational systems regulated by the government, if materials are not continuously debated and modified, then the information cannot stand as a viable resource but as dogma. Mass media can be used by government with blatant or subtle messages. The restriction of access to information creates levels of ignorance, which can lead to hatred and prejudice. When people are not taught to think for themselves or given and alternative to commonly accepted perspectives the cycle of violence is immensely difficult to break.
Statement on Safety & Security
We, the Committee on Safety and Security, having been given the task of defining the concept of safety and security in the world’s fight to uproot terror and hatred are outlining the following ideas and plans. The right to feel no threat, whether it be mental or physical, while carrying out the everyday functions of life is one right that all people are entitled to as humans.
This committee has been presented with the arduous task of exploring the reasons that the citizens of the world have not been given the rights they justly deserve. We submit that terror, foreign aggression, discrimination and occupation are among the main causes for the lack of security. This committee will take the aforementioned points and delve into them further, explaining the causes and attempting to introduce some substantive solutions to the problem.
Occupation: A controlling of a people and their ways of life by military force, in order to be the superior and dominant power and control the economic resources, trade and claim lands of other people for the benefit of the occupier. When a nation is under occupation, its stability and tranquility becomes corrupted, it lacks the ability to defend itself against any threat to its civilians because they do not have the means to defend themselves while they are under the rule of the occupation, nor do they have the ability to develop their own security forces or systems and therefore the civilians are open to any external threat. The nation occupied will be in such a deep condition of depression from the occupation that it reaches a point of indifference towards developing their own systems, which also is another motivation for terrorism. However, through doing this act, which was originally created to preserve the security and safety of the occupying side, it results in the complete opposite, through creating hatred, depression, and a need for revenge, thus leading to self destruction to the occupier. Within the occupied community terrorists will appear and will commit terrorist acts against the occupying nation, which will result in fear, and instability within the occupying government.
Terrorism: Terrorism is defined as violence against innocents with a goal of instilling fear in a general population, and is a formidable challenge to global security. Terrorism in all countries and societies proves to have a strong connection to an overwhelming feeling of frustration and hopelessness. The main causes of terrorism are economic disparity, authoritarian regimes, domination by a foreign power, and lack of education.
The feeling of frustration due to poverty does not have to be explained or clarified, for it is an obvious and thus expected reaction. When economic disparity also exists, the frustration is magnified. This is true of economic disparity and relative poverty between countries on the international level, but even more so between social classes or individuals on the national level.
The lack of democracy and self-determination of government in non-developed and developing countries is caused by the fall of regimes of an extremist nature. This problem results in dissatisfaction and anxiety among peoples and nations and also fosters radicalism and fundamentalism because of the nonexistence of a national identity. Lack of nationalistic self-determination, whether through unequal representation of a minority population or through occupation by a foreign power, is a major cause of terrorism world-wide. Minority populations who are treated as unequal citizens develop resentment towards their government and are more likely to turn to terror as a way to force their government to listen.
Occupation, through violent suppression and denial of a national identity, breeds intense resistance and hatred towards the occupying power. Occupied nations, often denied such basic rights as protection of citizens, become dangerous environments for the development of young minds and ideals. These young people, educated in the reality of occupation, often turn to terrorism as a way to end the repression of their brethren.
When any or all of the three causes listed above exist, additional forces develop, making more appealing the promise of results achieved through terrorism. The absence of education often leads people to resort to terrorism. Radical leaders are able to manipulate people’s thoughts in places where a lack of education is prevalent. Critical thinking and peaceful resolutions are an essential part of, and are requirements in order for the people of a nation to help shape the policy of that nation. Without it, a charismatic leader can promise the fulfillment of peoples’ goals, through the manipulation and misinterpretation of religious texts and history. Often people cling to these misinterpretations, again out of desperation, and also out of an inability to challenge these viewpoints.
Terrorism presents a pressing global issue. Fueling conflict between nations, terrorism challenges global stability. These attacks weaken the economies of targeted nations and cause fear-induced legislation, such as more restrictive immigration policies and closed borders. The devastating impact, both psychologically and physically, on citizens and victims, illustrates the true goal of terrorism: to induce fear. This perversion of man’s power threatens the citizens of every nation. Terrorism causes hatred and often violence towards whole populations equated with offenders. The immense threat of terrorism must be eradicated.
Discrimination: Every human being has the inherent right to feel secure and safe without the fear of discrimination; this, being a major motivator of social conflicts throughout history, continues to threaten the present generations in the first years of the twenty-first century. Human nature has the tendency to see the other side as the enemy and discriminate against the minority group to gain the feeling of power, safety and security.
Discrimination derives from the prejudiced, hateful, and often violent acts towards a group of people by another group who deem themselves to be superior. Discrimination can be caused by the differences and gaps in religion, language, culture or race between certain groups of people. Those differences, which come out of the history or the background of the continuing conflict, can also be caused by the separation of a group from the others in the present time.
Discrimination is basically seen among uneducated populations because when one is ignorant to one’s surroundings, one tends to separate one’s self from them and create rifts. People, being blinded by false generalizations and stereotypes of the other side, begin to hate each other. Hatred is the root of violence, and introduces fear into communities. As soon as the seeds of hatred get into the hearts of thousands, the safety and security of people is threatened by uncontrollable acts of violence from the powerful majority.
Discrimination not only endangers the physical state of a population but also threatens the emotional safety of individuals. Oppression against the different minorities is a result of the generalization among the people who have never gotten the chance to see or know each other. Joining the separate sides of youth under the roof of a common educational curriculum and designing programs, such as summer camps or youth organizations that unify the different sides of a community, will help to eliminate the discrimination by breaking down standing stereotypes and prejudices. That is why we, as the safety and security committee, believe in integrating an education system that fights against ignorance and that supports the personal relationships among the young people. Only by this way, the coming generations and the leaders of the future will get to know each other and halt the discrimination that dominates our world with its violent claws.
Foreign Aggression: We define foreign aggression as a threat coming from an outside power that has the ability to cause destabilization among a people. Foreign aggression can be divided up into three categories: physical/military, psychological and economical.
The existence of a nation’s aggressive policy, which is implemented by the use of physical/ military aggression infringes on people’s right to safety and security. If a country feels a threat from another country it has the obligation to protect itself militarily, however the danger resulting from such actions is the escalation of violence between the countries. Measures must be taken in order to deter these escalations from taking place and prevent the eruption of a war. In a situation when two nations feel a threat from one another, the first step to prevent violence should be bilateral talks between the two sides. In the event of failure of the talks, a third and neutral party should be introduced in its capacity as a mediator. Peace keepers should be introduced only as a final solution to prevent the outbreak of war. A timeline for political negotiations and solutions to the military threat should be set.
Globalization results in the direct and indirect connection and interdependency in the economies of different nations. A whole nation may be menaced both militarily and economically by another nation(s) that possess greater military power and might be at the same time financially superior. As a result to the military aggression, the nation is obliged to buy more military equipment and technology. In the case of financial threat, a country should try to improve, advance and multiply its resources (and consequently income) in order to achieve its economic independence, thus limiting the effect that the foreign aggressor has on the country.
An individual may be threatened and fear the aggressive stance of a foreign country, something that may result in the loss of a person’s mental and/or physical well-being. Foreign aggression may have great psychological impact on a nation through restricting some of the basic human rights and most essentially; the freedom of speech, the right to a nationality and freedom of religion.
Conclusion: In recent times past, the concepts which are outlined above have been brought to the fore front. These four issues are not to be looked upon lightly because they are of utmost importance. Being these are issues that are difficult to address the solutions offered will not be easy to implement.
Concerning the subject of discrimination, this committee has found that there are no easy answers. There are however many feasible solutions that can be brought to the table. School programs can bring students together to try and gain understanding. While we are aware this will not eradicate the problem completely it has been proven that these programs work in an effective manner. Establishing a rigorous program of education that all students must undergo is a solution that we feel is effective. This program that we suggest should begin at an early age and continue into the higher institutions of learning. While we are aware that these solutions might lean towards the idealistic side this committee has come to the conclusion that there is no simple way to fix the problem aside from education and exposure at an early age.
Before we can take up the fight against terror we must first have a clear definition of terror from the United Nations. The debate to define terrorism has raged for decades. Once a clear definition has been established, the following solutions will be feasible. There must be more of an effort by school systems throughout the world to educate people to understand others’ religions since one of the main causes of terrorism is a lack of understanding. Resolutions passed by international bodies must be implemented fully to halt support for terrorist organizations.
Occupation, another challenger of global security, is something that affects every nation. One way to end the occupation of certain regions would be to have neutral nations serve as mediators. Currently, many nations assisting in the mediation of occupied territories have a personal interest in these regions which affect their neutrality. The occupying nation must withdraw from the occupied territory, as deemed by international law. Once the occupied nation has regained sovereignty, it must work to gain economic stability, restore order, and gain the confidence of the people under its control.
One cause of hatred and terror in this world lies in the military aggression of nations towards each other to obtain territory. These problems can be prevented through international observers and peacekeepers. The relations between the warring sides must be closely monitored, not only on the battlefield, but also in the diplomatic and humanitarian arenas.
Although implication of the aforementioned ideals and principles seems nearly impossible, therein lies the struggle that the world is facing to rid itself of hatred and terrorism. It is our hope that these suggestions will be a starting point for what will be the long road to a safe and secure world.
Statement by the Committee on Popular Culture
Pop Culture, the present expression of culture, which includes music, fashion, tv, computer games, new trends, movies, commercials, and radio, is a form of expression we interact with everyday. Because of this constant exposure, pop culture can powerfully affect the way we feel, and the ways in which we express those feelings. Often times, the information transmitted through pop culture can cause misunderstandings—intentional and unintentional—both between different cultures and inside of one culture. These misunderstands can cause conflict which in turn can lead to violence. Through music and movies prejudices may develop into stereotypes. Too many times, black Americans are constricted to violent criminalized roles in American films and television. Some people of other ethnicities take this to mean that all blacks are violent criminals.
This phenomenon is not limited to American society, as the Middle East is often depicted as an uncivilized, uncultured area as well. Often in our societies we see elements of pop culture which are used to antagonize us against the so-called enemies of our countries. Many countries feel that violence is caused by the pop culture of the “enemy.” They feel that their own pop culture is different from that of the opposition and make slanderous statements about the other’s pop culture that antagonize people. This causes dissent among people and ill-feeling towards the other culture. Depiction of the other culture as dangerous, different, or lesser turns people completely against it. For example, in some of our countries songs and jokes depict people from the other side to be lowly and dangerous, causing people to refrain from interacting with them.
Also, because there are multiple pop cultures, tensions can arise when they interact. That is to say, the producer, distributors, and marketers of the global pop culture mainstream often leave out the voice of the third world. This can cause a sense in the citizens of the third world that their culture is on the verge of destruction. This also causes a separation between the two cultures, as the third world feels rejected and shunned. The citizens of the third world therefore often feel the need to defend their culture and to retrieve their pride, even violently.
This does not mean that pop culture is by necessity bad. On the contrary, pop culture can be used by the producers to express their feelings of shame and anger, and also show their belief in themselves, and in that way gain back their pride non-violently. At its best, producers of pop culture give people ways to come out of depression and provide them with hope. Popular culture can bring people together, but there are some who feel excluded because of the difference in taste. Some people may not like certain forms of music which are considered violent and sexist. Because of this, they tend to be alienated by the majority, which can lead to unhappiness and eventually to violence.
There are pressures on us as individuals to act in certain ways; pressures such as religious or family traditions. Thus we need to adjust the way we express ourselves through popular culture depending on the occasion. Through listening to expressions of other popular culture we can learn about their experiences, suffering, motivations, and frustrations. We therefore need to respect each others’ personal choices about pop culture. We can come together through differences just as through similarities instead of having them divide us.
Sometimes people initially reject the culture of another society, but soon learn to adopt it, as in the case of conflict stricken regions such as India and Pakistan, and their famous kite flying festival which brings the two nations together. Or in the case of Cyprus, where the first time Greek and Turkish musicians performed together, less than twenty people attended. Today bi-communal concerts are attended by hundreds of youth from both sides of the island.
Mozart said, “Music soothes the savage beast,” and Madonna says, “Music makes the people come together.” The consumer must always be wary of pop culture. The messages in it can be both good and bad and so it is the duty of the consumers to be conscious of the choices they make and not blindly follow the misunderstandings they receive.