MON 24 - 9 - 2018
 
Date: Feb 21, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Social Justice: A balance for coexistence
Rubina Abu Zeinab–Chahine

Social justice is the golden rule for peaceful and affluent coexistence within nations and among them. The World Day for Social Justice celebrates its eleventh anniversary this week.

Annually observed on Feb. 20, the day stresses the need to build fair, more inclusive societies focusing attention on achieving social integration and looking into how the absence of social justice is reflected on poverty, unemployment and violence.

Social justice is a value by itself. However, it is very important to look at it not only from an ethical imperative but as the cornerstone for national stability and global prosperity.

Justice and peace go together; and it is difficult to get one without the other.

This year the day comes along with Munich Security Conference, the major security global forum established in 1963.

For five decades now, the conference has been held every February bringing together senior decision-makers, political and military leaders from around the globe discussing security policies.

The conference hosted this year, Feb. 16-18, 30 head of states and governments, 100 Cabinet minister and 1,000 journalists and representatives of top tech industry addressing the world’s most pressing security challenges. The MSC, once named as the “Best Think Tank Conference,” convenes high profile side events stressing specific topics and regions, as well as discussing the most urgent matters on the international security agenda.

Without social inclusion, justice and participation, peace is a fantasy. Different ways must be further perused to engage communities by creating spaces for promoting dialogue around relevant social justice issues and providing opportunities for the voices of the underprivileged, vulnerable and the marginalized to be heard.

Some of the insights and debates from the top security decision-makers might change the whole structure of the building regarding the relation among justice, development, peace and security.

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde said in her message at the Munich Security Conference that “global growth is on an upswing.

Let us use this moment to address risks on the horizon, including rising inequality and financial vulnerabilities.”

On the other hand, Jim Yong Kim, the 12th president of the World Bank Group, claimed that “we will bring together our funding experience and commitment to help people suffering under fragility, conflict and violence.

“Investment in people are prerequisites for peace.”

Meanwhile, Choo Mi-ae, the chairman of Minjoo Party of Korea said, “Our future lies in the balance of coexistence, not in the presence of terror.”

Justice, in its broad sense, is a concept as ancient as humanity, while social justice is relatively new. Its origin goes back to the industrial revolution and the prevalence of socialist views on the function and structure of society. It does not appear in the Charter or in the Universal Declaration of Human rights or its two International Covenants.

Among the first international events to promote the concept of “social justice” was the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen 1995 putting people at the heart of development and pledging for a more stable, safe and just societies.

The concept that was scarcely mentioned years later in the United Nations Millennium Declaration represents today the core of the Agenda 2030, a vision to guide policies and decisions all through developmental projects and plans.

During the last decades, the increase in inequality among people and the regression in social justice has become the new trend distressing a large number of countries, poor and prosperous alike.

With a higher percentage of the world’s population missing proper social protection, great inequality in the distribution of opportunities, in the access to services and benefits as well as income-related inequalities, the international community and the U.N. are calling “for a new era of social justice that offers basic services, decently paid jobs, and safeguards for the poor, vulnerable and marginalized.”

Yesterday, the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia celebrated World Day for Social Justice under the theme “Celebrating Equality and Justice in the work of Gibran Khalil Gibran,” in a half day event at the U.N. offices in Beirut where Mr. Mohammad Ali al-Hakim, the under secretary-general of the U.N. and ESCWA’s executive secretary highlighted in his opening speech the importance of celebrating this day “both as a virtue and practical commitment worldwide.”

He added “if its presence cannot be measured, then it is not difficult to imagine its absence.”

It is argued that achieving in poverty reduction and enhancing living standards would take the world closer to social justice.

However, how efficient are the ongoing commitments to address existing inequalities and improve access to social justice in communities?

Can the world be a fairer place by teaching the new generation social justice?

Injustice and grievances pave the way for violent extremism and terrorism.

It is time to agree on basic security principles and rules of governance, which will lead to a level of security that allows for peace and prosperity.

Equal opportunity, solidarity, inclusion and respect for human rights, offering people opportunities to engage in productive activities of their choice are the drives for unlocking the full productive potential of societies. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King.

Rubina Abu Zeinab–Chahine is executive director, Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 21, 2018, on page 3.

The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy
 
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