1429 Reasons for Hope for Peace

© Open Society Initiative

The resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations adopted on September 27 forces the regime of Bashar al-Assad to destroy all chemical weapons stockpiles. This resolution puts an end to a period of tension in which President Obama has suggested that the international community had a moral duty to invade Syria to release its population. Calling for justice for the victims is emotionally appealing, but at the same time there are thousands of victims of economic injustice. 



Syrian people are suffering the tyranny of a dictatorship that is committing abuse and crimes against the people’s dignity. However, Syrian people have been suffering the same terror for many years and no western country considered it particularly important while they were making profits from their trade relationship. What has changed in recent years to motivate this urgent attack? What are the economic interests of these countries that now they consider a military intervention to be justified?



Pope Francis has made an anguished call for peace in the region inviting the whole world to be open to others, to hear those in need and to join in negotiations to overcome the conflict. With the same spirit, he calls for the International Community to promote initiatives of peace based on dialogue. John XXIII’s call in Pacem in Terris for a new international order which establishes fresh links among nations based on Justice and Peace rings out anew.



Poverty and economic injustice are the cause of most armed conflicts. Abuses of human dignity will only be overcome when the international community commits itself to promoting innovative structures that establish new economic models. Failing this, economic agreements which try to expand the controlling position of multinational companies in developing countries will never bring about a new culture of peace. The argument of the West that it is looking for justice for the victims of chemical warfare appeals to people’s emotions. However, at the same time there are thousands of victims of the economic injustice created by the West’s trade agreements.  



Often, the power and economic interest of developed countries produce an impact on the African population that is more destructive than military attacks. In many cases, the conditions of trade destroy business and force these countries to be just exporters of primary commodities. Then there is the exploitation of oil and natural resources in African countries that plunder the livelihoods of many people, with destruction of fertile lands and biodiversity loss. If we could quantify the number of victims who die every day in Africa as a result of economic injustice, western nations would have to look for other arguments to defend their military intervention. But developed countries prefer to look away.



The international community has to reflect and establish new spaces of dialogue where the interests of the African population are the focus, not the economic interest of a few countries and companies. A culture of peace is necessarily related to a culture of solidarity where developing countries have the opportunity to formulate their own economic policies and where social justice is present in the spirit of international trade agreements.



The armed conflict in Syria, with its hidden fight between companies of different countries for control of oil in the country, is an opportunity to plan new mechanisms for dialogue to overcome the poverty; it should not be an excuse to impose arms and a neoliberal economic regime.  As we read in Caritas in Veritate, it is in a spirit of solidarity that we have to face the current difficulties - and offer 1429 reasons of hope in the struggle for peace. 



José Luis Gutierrez Aranda

AEFJN Policy Officer

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