A fair consensus already exists

The world needs to check polarization on the lines of ?West versus the rest or Islam, writes Saikat Neogi.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 01:26 IST

The world needs to check polarization on the lines of “West versus the rest or Islam,” and remove the false impression that the Clash of Civilization is the only way of solving global problems.

Several global institutions like the United Nations and the International Peace Research Foundation (IPRF) have suggested that consensus needs to be reached on the following crucial issues to avoid future conflicts.

Promote democracy

The last two decades have seen an unprecedented spread of democracy with 81 countries taking positive steps. But a study conducted by Freedom House, a US think-tank, says that in the last 30 years Islamic countries have bucked this global trend.

The good news is that a 2003 Pew Global Attitudes survey covering 44 Islamic nations found that a majority of their citizens favoured multi-party system, freedom of press and democracy. Clearly, what is needed is political leadership with vision and skills. The powerful Western nations, which prefer the status quo, also need to move away from narrow oil concerns, Isolate extremist fringe.

The world needs to expand its fight against global terrorism. At the same time efforts must be made to integrate moderate Muslims into the mainstream politics. It is well acknowledged that the militant Islam is a tiny minority of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslim population.

The IPRF suggests that the UN, EU, NATO and other multilateral organisations can provide a forum for moderates to form joint fronts against various forms of radicalism.

De-escalate the Middle East crisis

There seems to be a worldwide consent that the chronic Middle East problems like the Palestine crisis have systematically soured relationships between the West and the Muslim societies.

Everyone, including the West, recognises that the turmoil in the Middle East has consequences far beyond the region. An amicable and lasting solution to this problem would prevent local conflicts from taking global dimensions.

The Dialogue must continue

Adopted by the UN General Assembly, the term ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ refers to understanding the beliefs, traditions, and concerns of people not only with different cultural, ethnic or religious backgrounds, but also with different political convictions. The IPRF suggests that the process of dialogue should be open and inclusive extending to local and regional levels.

Promote equitable development

The UNCTAD’s African Economic Development report shows that by 2000, the region’s per capita income had dropped 10 per cent in 20 years, with 28 million people on the verge of starvation. The dangers of lopsided growth are also emphasised in UN Millennium Development goals that cover all aspects of human development. Globalisation must be made more inclusive and equitable.

First Published: Oct 02, 2006 05:52 IST