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Failing to address root problems like a lack of security and disease undermines the rule of law. Generations of idealists have sought to establish a global system of governance that creates the conditions necessary for peace, security and prosperity to prevail. The work of the United Nations, a manifestation of this idealism, is replicated in regional arrangements that seek collective security, and in other institutions (like customs unions) that work towards greater global cooperation through trade. Conflict is the unfortunate backdrop for many such attempts throughout history; decolonization, achieved progressively since the end of World War II, has yielded many independent countries still configured along lines drawn on maps centuries ago to delineate spheres of interest among competing colonial powers. International law has deemed these boundaries sacrosanct, despite their often random nature - which has frequently placed many different ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups under a single flag. Successful states have been able to bring communities together to create stability, while in others ethnic tensions and historic antagonisms boost the odds of violent extremism, and war, both within and beyond national boundaries. Vulnerability and a lack of security continue to undermine aspirations for peace and security. The global arms trade and the proliferation of weapons often hasten the breakdown of the rule of law - but failures to address root problems, like disease, food and water insecurity, and a lack of meaningful employment and education, are also factors. Entrenched poverty and the competition for scarce resources create existential tension, enabling conflict to fester. Climate injustice, long suffered most acutely by those farthest from power, has boosted migratory flows - as have armed conflicts. Humanitarian actors have struggled to meet growing needs, and to engender a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, while policy-makers, activists and experts have toiled to draw sufficient attention to the climate catastrophe and the need to help ensure a better future for the planet. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - and specifically the related “Leave No One Behind” principle - have generated a vision of a more peaceful world; not necessarily through avoiding war or better arranging for collective security, but based on addressing basic human vulnerability alongside planetary concerns, and by redesigning underlying systems in ways most likely to yield greater stability.

No Justice, no Peace and Security


Demands for Justice