A Great Show Ever – Dynamics of Life with Justice.
Life as lived is as good as the values that are supported by the four elements of Purusasthas, Sanskrit term for life’s purpose – Upanishad statement.
One may not know whether Albert Einstein was a believer or not, but his discovery or self-realization that there is spirit in the universe that manifests in varied ways, colors, forms and names is fundamental to our understanding of the dynamics of life and the relationships on this planet.
Similarly, anyone who listened, and watched through Internet webcasts, the discussions and debates in the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, 27-31 Jan 2010, could have been amused or bemused, depending on his/her state of mind, by the tone of “spirituality” and the talk of value creation, common good in place of individual greed or “greed is good” motto, and appeals for self-discipline, state regulation, duties-before-rights, and personal responsibility.
There was an air of disdain and disquiet talking about “what is in it for me, rather than how can I help”. In some cases, participants, including a Noble Laureate, wanted to “promote” selflessness combined with selfishness in brand-name marketing, etc. Like the fish in the pond survives by eating the germs and rubbish in the water, and in the process keeping the pond clean! All these are intended to keep the world safe from another economic-financial-banking crisis aided and abetted with Wall Street villains, Bernard Madoffs and their cohorts elsewhere.
Seeking to improve the state of the world by catalyzing global cooperation to address pressing challenges and future risks, Davos 2010 sought global cooperation of all stakeholders – from business, government, the media, science, religion, the arts and civil society to work as a true single community of concerned world citizens.
So the theme of the WEF 2010 is to “Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild” with trust and collaboratively agree to an agenda of action embracing almost all aspects of life – from climate change to change of mindset and behavior in the corporate board rooms to the secretariats of bureaucrats and politicos. So much for the better.
Since there is only one global organization called the United Nations (UN) surviving 60+ years since its inception, it is but natural to expect this organization to have matured enough, accept responsibility to lead and to do its job seriously and undertake such actions conducive and supportive to the realization of the Three “Rs” (Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild with Trust). Specifically, the UN can and should play its global role to enhance the quality of trust all around, starting from home.
Price of the UN Internal Justice System
The role of the UN in rethinking, redesigning and rebuilding a world fit for human beings must be a continual one. Its credibility and relevance in doing these important tasks depend on its capacity and capability to do “justice” in all its undertakings from Security Council sitting in a classic Norwegian Chamber on the banks of East River with a backdrop of great mural painting depicting human evolution through trials and tribulations by Patrick Gruban, to completing child immunization and vaccination campaigns in the remote villages of Mozambique and among the Sub-Saharan Mali nomadic tribes.
Among many contributing factors that influence effective UN efforts toward human development, one important key to success is none other than its human assets – its staff and their well-being. Since the staff are not made by bricks and mortar, but human beings encrypted/hardwired with the play of all senses both individually and collectively, the need for inclusive coherence in the collective thoughts, ideas and efforts cannot be over stressed.
The greater and more intense the frequency of coherence and co-creation, the lesser are the chances of internal in house conflict and commotion. Even so, in an imperfect world with imperfect systems + imperfect human beings, there is no way to ignore or avoid the confusions, conflicts and confrontations which, left unattended in a timely fashion, would snowball into formidable roadblocks to progress or becoming avalanches destroying all on its way. Hence, an internal justice system that thinks and acts impartially, independently, and intelligently and with a kind of timeliness and compassion to keep the huge system on even keel and in a proper working environment becomes critically essential.
Remember, however, just doing simple budget arithmetic of the reformed UN Internal Justice System, this is going to cost the organization and also the tax-payers of member states no less than US $3-4 million every calendar year.
Justice, broadly speaking, is the balancing of interests equally and equitably to ensure the value for such a large investment. Justice is done with the help of Niti, a sound institutional framework, fundamentals and supportive laws that are not discriminatory, and Nyaya, translating Niti as realizable network and goals of justice that is fair and just for those who are at the receiving end.
This kind of investment has to be kept in mind and justified by assessing its worth, and what is being achieved or delivered in terms of satisfied clients (justice-seekers) and contribution to the organization’s cost-effectiveness and efficiency. This type of close monitoring, evaluation and public reporting should be a MUST to bring about a new paradigm of justice based on equity, fair play and justice of law that does not permit delay, nor lack credibility.
If the newly reformed UN Internal Justice System should be cost-value-effective and not becoming the repeat of dysfunctional and discredited past instrument, there are some lessons that it should be smart enough to learn and follow:
- Stand for the big things: law and justice based on the foundational values and principles envisioned in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
- Think bigger than life and live meditatively: the UN Internal Justice System at the apex level (UNAT) is not just dispute-resolving mechanism for petty quarrels between a boss and his/her supervisees/underlings, to handle superiority-complex and macho behaviors at the work setting including those of sex-orientation, contractual fights due to lack of clarity right from recruitment stage etc. The purpose and functions of the UNAT and its erudite deliberations should bring about truth and values to the whole edifice called the UN, to re-establish faith and trust in the internal justice system and to enable the heterogeneous community of bureaucrats and others to work and relate to each other in an atmosphere of total ease, civility, mutual respect with total security and without threats.
- Create virtues and values based on transparency and accountability.
- Prepare UNAT/UNDT annul evaluation reports, by independent world-class management gurus. Let them analyze how the system works, how much it costs, in terms of US$ and value-wise against agreed norms, and what it takes to keep the system sensible, sustainable both justifiably and economically.
- Incidentally, and if necessary, get an out-sourced IT expert to make the official web site of UNAT/UNDT truly useful, user-friendly and interactive. Right now it is neither, pretty basic as neighborhood library in a run-down urban township.
In understanding the growth of democracy and justice, from the days of John Rawls Theory of Justice to present day Noble Laureate Amartya Sen The Idea of Justice, there are two key elements to ensure the final quality of justice itself:
- The definitive idea for deliberative democracy and justice is the idea of deliberation itself, wedded to open-minded objective analysis of the situation; and
- The other key aspect is its place for total independence, impartiality, accountability and finally, the scope and freedom for objective analysis by public reasoning.
Such an approach should facilitate a holistic understanding and perspective of justice in any given situation. Justice not based on narrowly defined rules of the game lacking appreciation of consistency or inter-connectedness of various issues, but justice that is based on the fundamentals of equity, fairness, impartiality, understanding and total objectivity; should stand the test of time and situations in any part of the civilized world.
In addressing human justice, well-being and freedom, the Indian sages talked about four distinct elements that are so strongly/closely linked to the five senses of the human being with which he/she operates/functions in this world. These four distinct elements are: Dharma (right conduct or righteousness); Artha (wealth creation or seeking materialistic pursuits); Kama (seeking happiness, pleasure; desire in different forms); and Moksha (freedom from all these fleeting things). The resultant feelings, emotions, attitudes, and behaviors from the play of the senses are normally experienced through actions issuing out between the poles of the opposites.
My happiness by gaining a material or goal could be someone’s problem or pain, so it brings that someone a sense of loss or unhappiness. Increased production of hosiery or leather goods, good for the producer/exporter, may result in increased pollution draining into the local river that is the only source of potable water to the local public, which includes the workers who work in the polluting factory.
When we talk about the so called win-win situation, something different happens: in the pursuit of wealth creation (Artha) and achieving happiness (Kama), we agree to act according to certain matrix of our conduct (Dharma).
Assuming the same hosiery/leather goods manufacturer, see above, decides to install a large purification unit to treat the waste water coming out from the factory and allows only treated water with no harmful chemicals and dissolved/undissolved agents, pumped into the river. Then, the collected impurities get buried safely in leak-proof containers below in an un-arable waste land, without any harm to the villagers. The act in this last example is consistent with and congruent to the universal values of common good (Dharma).
In essence, in order to enhance the quality of life on this planet, we should all try to think rationally every single problem and find solutions that are congruent with Dharma. Thus it is possible to aim at a life style with more of win-win models, with less and less of win-lose or lose-lose situations.
In fact, one need not worry about the fourth element/stage called Moksha (freedom) because the more our life gets attuned to Dharma way of doing things, a sense of “freedom” will start building up in the body-mind-senses complex and all mental agonies and agitations stop. Peace and calm prevail. That is called true freedom or heaven on earth.
What is required to sustain a harmonious life, at least with less disorder, is justice, based on liberty, equality, equity, fairness and open impartiality.
Having digressed to understand the mechanism of human life on earth let us go back to Davos and our own UN Internal Justice system.
In the case of Davos:
It seems somewhat straightforward: turn the “greed is good” motto into “common good and shared values” among all stake-holders – business, governance and civil society. The relevant goals become achievable through a system of checks and balances (with built-in advance warning system) that prevents and stops the growth of raw “greed, arrogance, recklessness and incompetence” but engenders a culture of sustainability and partnership based on caring and sharing and space for all players.
When it comes to the UN Internal Justice System, it may need a different approach. Though the UN is only a microcosm of the wider macrocosm, the world, even so the situation at the UN requires more intensive care and deeper treatment. Because there is a huge concentration of vested interests and the whole aspects of Artha and Kama play in full measure all over the place. The vested interests are convinced that the system is too big and too inter-connected to be allowed to be exposed and fail despite continued recklessness. Hence, the reform medicine is difficult to administer. We have seen in the past it has always been a patchwork and half-done or not done at all! Yet, the medicine should be somehow properly administered.
Let me transplant some of the ideas that came from Davos 2010 that seem just as relevant and important to the UN reform process:
- Rethink the world’s 20th century institutions (the UN family in all its shapes, sizes and forms) and redesign them to meet 21st century demands; start from the Security Council composition;
- Draft new rules for the governance of globalization – the international community must rebuild global systems based on new networks and new forms of collaboration; what is needed is a kind of “institutional reboot” to move the world from talking to doing;
- Consider “variable geometry” or pluralist solutions, public-private partnerships and smaller-scale region or city-driven initiatives, moving away from single undertakings, one-size-must-fit-all arrangements that require unanimity among all countries in redesigning and rebuilding institutions and mechanisms of global governance; This approach is also relevant to in-house entrenched feudalist divisions/departments/sections within the UN behemoth;
- Develop a new metrix that integrates corporate goals aligned to social goals and values;
- Drive the world’s responses to the most pressing global risks through values and the protection of people’s rights to address systemic problems;
- The international community should outline global goals and guidelines for moving forward in addressing global risks, while respecting a person’s individual pathway, e.g. good examples: MDG, Child Rights Convention, UDHR, etc.
“Whenever you get into a jam, crisis or emergency, become the calmest person in the room and you will be able to figure your way out of it” Former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
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