Peace is more than just the absence of war or harm (Daily Monitor (Uganda))


Peace and security must form an important component of the 2016 general election in Uganda. The level of peace and security achieved so far must be properly guarded and built upon in order to realise permanent peace and security. The common and uniting factor for all participants in the election should be peace and security.

Since independence in 1962, Uganda has suffered various forms of insecurity, violence, rebellion, wars, insurgency and cattle rustling. Thousands were killed as well as trillions of shillings worth of property destroyed. In order not to repeat past mistakes, Ugandans should analyse the causes of instability and the threats to peace.
In 1981, Yoweri Museveni went to the bush in Luweero and waged a five year guerilla war because the 1980 general election was rigged. The 2016 general election must not be the cause for disunity and war. Yet those challenging President Museveni and NRM are unsuccessfully demanding for electoral reforms as conditions for holding free and fair elections.

Let us remember that the election scheduled for 1967 was crashed by the 1966 crisis. Again the election planned for 1972 was shot down by the 1971 coup. Furthermore, the election due to be held in December 1985 was torpedoed by the July 1985 coup. Historically therefore, most if not all elections in Uganda have been problematic and sources of violent changes. The current formation of militias and violent police actions are worrying.

The fundamental change we expect from President Museveni and NRM is that elections should be a pleasant occasion to renew or peacefully change leadership. Thirty years in power, the greatest legacy of NRM and President Museveni should be true peace (not just security) and democracy including peaceful change of government and leaders. If today there are still disputes over electoral reforms and the institution of electoral commission, then democracy scores are very low and the future of Uganda’s stability is threatened.

Sustainable development and its enjoyment by the people should be founded on peace and democracy. Developments in European countries before World War II, Uganda under Obote I, Somalia under Siadd Barre, Libya under Gaddafi, Syria under Assad, were destroyed due to lack of democracy and peace. The Bible admonishes that the foundation of a strong house cannot be built on sand.

We must also learn from World War II (1939 1945). This year, the world is celebrating 70 years of the end of the World War II which was most tragic and disastrous in human history. The war involved more than 100 million people and more than 30 countries. More than 24 million soldiers including Ugandans were killed. Over 49 million civilians were killed making a total of 73 million people who died.
As a result of World War II, the United Nations was formed in 1945 to promote and maintain world peace and security. Subsequently, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed in 1948 as a common standard for all people and nations to stop future wars, rebellion and violence.

According to Wikipedia, world peace is an ideal of freedom, peace and happiness among and within nations and / or people. World peace is an idea of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare.
The International Day of Peace or World Peace Day is observed annually on September 21. It is dedicated to peace and specifically the absence of war and violence. The day was first celebrated in 1982.

Religions have key roles to play in the promotion and protection of peace. Indeed all known religions such as Christianity, Islam, Bahai, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Jainism and Sikhism believe in and preach peace and love of humanity. Religious leaders should, therefore, identify the causes and threats to peace and security which must be addressed timely.

The three main causes of war and insecurity are:- Violation of human rights and freedoms, bad governance and greed for power.
For our national defence, peace and security, it is absolutely necessary for Uganda to have a strong, nationalistic, patriotic, non-partisan and professional army and police force. But permanent peace and stability cannot be built around security forces and perishable human leaders alone. Individuals, neighbours and tribes must be at peace with one another.

Security is not synonymous with peace. Security is physical protection of person, country or property against attacks or harm. Prisoners in Luzira are under tight security but do they enjoy peace? Some governments spend too much on security but still fail to achieve peace for its people as it was in South Africa during apartheid regime and Uganda under Idi Amin.

Peace is more than just the absence of war or harm. True peace must be founded on respect of human rights and freedoms, democracy, good governance, equality, liberty, happiness and ability by individual person to afford the basics of life such as food, water, healthcare, clothing, shelter and education. Poor people, slaves and those oppressed can never be happy and peaceful but are the seed of violence and insecurity.
Mr Atubo is a lawyer, former minister and MP

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