International Day of Peace 2017

Peace is not an accident. Peace is not a gift. Peace is something we must work for, every day, in every country.
— Ban Ki-moon

As this year's #PeaceDay approached, I couldn't help but wonder how the work we do at the Center relates to this year's theme and global peace as a whole.

In 1981, the United Nations unanimously passed Resolution 36/37 declaring September 21 as a day devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and people.” The theme for this year is Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All. One may ask how earth jurisprudence fits into the concept of peace within and among nations and the answer is all too well.

Earth jurisprudence is a philosophy of law that seeks legal consideration for the whole earth community, recognizing that each member of that community is dependent on the health of the earth as a whole. When we over-consume, pollute, or exploit a set of resources, such acts have rippling effects that are not always recognized or appreciated. One major, current example of this is the refugee crisis occurring in Syria. Unsustainable use and exploitation of the country's aquifers, combined with rising temperatures and decreased rainfall worsened by human-effected climate change exacerbated the already politically volatile atmosphere in the country. The water crisis produced many ecological refugees causing the migration of rural communities to the cities, triggering larger scale conflicts and resulting in even more international refugees.

Of course, this is only one element of a much larger internal conflict, but we can see how our resource management plays a significant role in our ability to respond effectively to an ecological crisis. Sea-level rise, drought, famine, and extreme weather events are all effects of our exploitive use of the planet. If we adopt legal principles that take a more comprehensive view of our use, conservation, and preservation of such resources, the problem of ecological refugees will become a much easier problem to solve. 

Furthermore, as our resources become more and more scarce, we will see an increase in conflicts and displaced people. A healthy ecosystem is vital to maintaining the health and safety of humans around the globe. It ensures adequate and available resources such as food and water, increasing stability in potentially volatile areas. It is the not the answer to achieving world peace, but it is one of the biggest components in ensuring stability.  

As Thomas Berry, the father of earth jurisprudence, so eloquently put,

The natural world is the larger sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from this community is to become destitute in all that makes us human. To damage this community is to diminish our own existence.

We cannot address this problem separate from each other or separate from the rest of the Earth community. We need to do it Together to achieve PEACE.