Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Monday, May 4, 2015, Baishakh 21, 1422 BS, Rajab 14, 1436 Hijr

Disarmament and human security from Asian perspective
Professor Ali Ashraf, MP   
Published : Monday, 4 May, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 51
The human security and peace in national and global level is quite absurd with the presence of arms. As almost a thousand years ago, Jabir Ibn Hayyan, an Arab scientist had suggested that if an atom bomb burst that would release enough power to destroy a city like Baghdad. A millennium later, tragically we came to know that he was right.
Each year we observe 'Hiroshima Day' in August with remorse and collective guilty. Is a nuclear holocaust inevitable? Can't we avoid it? When does this folly end? Hiroshima is a point of reference for this article not only because it is in Asia, but also because it has a whipping effect on our conscience. We cannot afford to a repeat of Hiroshima.
The continent of Asia is the largest - in terms of size and the number of people it shelters. Since World War II, Asia has witnessed more full-blown wars than all the other continents put together. I have seen a number of disputes among countries in Asia. Perhaps, now it is Asia's turn to learn from Europe and North America.
It is time to declare a crusade against war and eliminate its deadly presence from the continent. The result of war is horrible as people of a state suffer the pains. State means to fulfil the expectations of its citizens not to give pains.
A state falls victim to militarism, overt and covert, when the distribution of national income and wealth becomes highly eschew and detrimental to majority-interest. Now the question arises, do these preconditions prevail in the Asia continent? The answer is unfortunately yes. Yes it persists, because perpetuation of divide and confrontation benefit the ruling minorities. Only a true democratic pattern of governance can make a state less jingoistic and more humane.
To politicians and representatives of the people, entrusted with the affairs of state, democratisation often means less power and fewer privileges. As a consequence, democratic values have not taken their roots, as they should have been, in the Asian continent. In the absence of democratic pluralism, accountability and transparency, the state becomes a self-defeating proposition.
We, the parliamentarians - as people's representatives, can save our states and our peoples from the meaningless pursuit of war. We can make this continent, this world more secure for our future generations. In order to do so, we must, first, demystify the notion of security.
There is a consensus among civil societies that intra- or inter-state disputes cannot be resolved militarily. In this sense military power becomes somewhat irrelevant to national and global security.
National security, however, has an emotional dimension. An individual often views his or her personal security closely linked to national security. States, on the other hand, tend to project nation security in terms of its military might, ostensibly to dissuade individual fear and reassure protection from enemies. Such perceptions of fear may be real or imaginary only fuel military extravagance, mostly at the expense of citizen welfare.
The world now spends almost a trillion dollars annually to fund military activities. This amount nearly equals the total income of the poorest half of humanity. Has this made the world a more secured place? Do the states, communities, individuals feel safer than before? Although weapons are often acquired to provide a sense of security, the outcome may be the exact opposite.
If security for a state or a community or an individual is to be obtained by reliance on firepower, then one can never have enough of it. The more heavily armed a society is, the more insecure it may come to feel.
Armament then is not a factor for Human security. Human security has a much wider meaning. Security, individual and collective, is best ensured in human development, when sufficient food, good health, sound education, proper shelter, clean environment and equal opportunities for self-expression are available for the majority.
An individual, adequately provided with necessities of life, is safe for himself and for others. Such an enabling condition not only ensures stability but also enhances the productive potentials of individuals and communities. With development of its human resources, a state becomes safe and secure.
In developing countries, food consumption accounts for nearly 50 per cent of all household expenditure. Thus, very little is left for human development such as healthcare and education. On the other hand, scarce national resources are wasted on military expenditure.
For developing countries, military expenditures average 62.4 per cent of what is spent for health and education sector combined. This imbalance on resource allocation not only deprives population from essential healthcare service and educational opportunities, it retards productivity potentials for future.
Human security is also dependent on sustainable development. Alongside human development, we must devote our resources to protecting the soil, reversing desertification and deforestation, slowing population growth, raising energy efficiency, developing renewable energy.
To my mind, these are men who make decisions on wars are people's representatives, legislators and parliamentarians. We, as people's representatives, can be the most effective antidote for the malice called 'war'. Parliamentarians must act together to bridge the gaps between dissenting and discontent mind, diffuse tension, discourage militarism, avert conflict and so on.
A provision for a collective decision to declare war when such an option becomes absolutely unavoidable needs to incorporate in all countries' constitutions. Parliamentarians should attempt to freeze growth in military expenditure and downsize existing military budgets.
People of the world from personal level to national and international want peace and security. To ensure security most of the developed countries are making nuclear weapons spending a great amount of wealth. But they are very much ignorant about that arms can never bring peace or security. Only the removal of arms or disarmament can make the world safe, secured and peaceful.
If we want to make our world a planet of peace and security, then we will have to stop making weapons and we will have destroyed all the arms. Without disarmament we can't ensure social security, peace, economic development and poverty eradication of billions of people in the globe.

Professor Ali Ashraf, MP, is former deputy speaker

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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