KAZAKHSTAN President Nursultan Nazarbayev has once again taken the lead in international relations, with a bold new document spelling out a plan for a world without wars.
Manifesto: The World. The 21st century delivered by Mr Nazarbayev on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington DC earlier this year outlines steps which could lead the world to become nuclear weapon-free.
This document has gained traction since, achieving the status of an official document of the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council.
Spelling out the seriousness of the task at hand, Mr Nazarbayev said: "Humanity hoped that the 21st century would herald a new era of global cooperation. This, however, may turn out to be a mirage."
"Our world is once again in danger and the risks cannot be underestimated. The threat is a deadly war on a global scale," he warned.
Mr Nazarbayev said that while the world has made many advances, wars continue to plague our civilisation, citing estimates by scholars that we have survived more than 15,000 wars, or about three every year over the course of history. These have killed hundreds of millions of people and destroyed cities and countries, while some cultures and civilisations have been wiped out.
"The virus of war continues to poison the international situation. It drives the military-industrial complex, which in some countries has become the most powerful sector of the economy," Mr Nazarbayev said.
"We cannot exclude the risk that this military threat could become a tragic reality on a global scale. We can see the signs of such a terrible outcome," he warned.
In fact, Mr Nazarbayev suggested that the risk of conflict has increased in international relations. While conflict has engulfed the historic battlegrounds of the two world wars, that is, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, the threat of nuclear weapons is still present and taking new and more dangerous forms.
"The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is not fulfilling its purpose," Mr Nazarbayev reiterated.
He warned that as nuclear weapons and the technology that produces them have spread all over the world the risk that they fall into the hands of terrorists is increasing.
"International terrorism has gained a more sinister character. It has moved from isolated acts in individual countries to a large scale terrorist aggression across Europe, Asia and Africa," he said.
Harking back to the manifestos of Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell in the late 20th century, which put forward the harrowing conundrum of whether the human race will come to an end, or will it be able to renounce war, Mr Nazarbayev said "their demand that disputes between countries cannot and should not be resolved by military means remains hugely relevant in the 21st century".
With a clear warning that in a future world war, nuclear weapons will inevitably be used and will lead to the destruction of all life on earth, he reiterated that "to end all wars is the most challenging task for our civilisation . . . there is no other reasonable alternative".
Putting forward his new comprehensive programme, 21st Century: A World without Wars, he said this global strategy will need to identify joint and responsible actions to be taken by all nations in order to destroy the virus of war.
DESTRUCTION OF HUMANKIND
The document should be based on three main principles, he said. Firstly, there will be no winners in any modern war; everyone would be on the losing side.
Secondly, a new war will inevitably entail the use of weapons of mass destruction which will lead to the destruction of all humankind.
And thirdly, the main tool for resolving all disputes between states should be peaceful dialogue and constructive negotiations on the basis of equal responsibility for peace and security, mutual respect and non-interference into domestic affairs.
Steps must be taken to achieve these goals and make gradual progress towards a world free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. To this effect, Kazakhstan has made a significant contributions. On Dec 7, 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration for the Achievement of a Nuclear Weapons Free World put forward by Kazakhstan.
In addition, 25 years ago, Kazakhstan permanently closed the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site, becoming the first, and for now, only such country to take such action.
Meanwhile, under the IAEA's auspices, Kazakhstan is hosting the Low-Enriched Uranium Bank on its territory, which will allow countries to develop civilian nuclear energy.
Mr Nazarbayev also said the global community must build on and expand existing geographical initiatives to gradually eliminate war as a way of life.
Currently, progress is being made with six nuclear weapons-free zones, encompassing Antarctica, and virtually the entire Southern Hemisphere, including Latin America, Africa, Australia, and Oceania.
The latest development is the nuclear weapons-free zone in Central Asia created 10 years ago in Semipalatinsk by five states of the region.
Looking ahead, Mr Nazarbayev said: "Now we must intensify international efforts to create a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East."
Kazakhstan has been at the heart of yet other peace efforts. For example, in 1992, Kazakhstan put forward an initiative to convene the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia. This forum has now been institutionalised with participation of 26 Member States of the continent, the United Nations and other international organisations.
Another initiative, the multilateral cooperation among China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's activities has also had a positive impact.
In addition, peace zones in South America, South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean have significant potential, Mr Nazarbayev suggested.
He also reiterated that it is important to eliminate relics of the Cold War as military blocs, which threaten global security and impede broader international cooperation.
"Geopolitical reality means that when one military bloc is established and developed, an opposing bloc will be created. Power generates anti-power. Military blocs can include countries which are not always aware of their responsibility to promote peace and security," he said.
Mr Nazarbayev proposed setting up a Global Coalition of States for peace, stability, trust and security under the UN auspices to counteract military blocs.
"Our common task for the next decade should be to end wars and conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, in eastern Ukraine and the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation," he said.
Mr Nazarbayev continued: "We must reduce the dangerous potential of the situations on the Korean Peninsula, the basin of the South China Sea, and the Arctic."
He also said that it is important to adapt the international disarmament process to new geopolitical conditions, adding that a short-sighted dismantlement of previous treaty limitations on anti-missile systems and conventional arms has resulted in militarisation in the political space of Eurasia.
"We need a new strategy for the UN Conference on Disarmament. The world needs to eliminate the new threat of cybercrime, which can become a very dangerous weapon if used by terrorists," he said.
Finally, ending on a more upbeat note, Mr Nazarbayev said a world without war requires primarily fair global competition in international trade, finance, and development.
EQUAL AND FAIR ACCESS
He highlighted the fact that during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Kazakhstan proposed the development of a 2045 Global Strategic Initiative Plan with its main goal to eliminate the root causes of wars and conflicts and can best be achieved through equal and fair access to infrastructure, resources and markets for all nations, with full implementation by the 100th anniversary of the United Nations in 2045.
Kazakhstan has also proposed convening a high level UN Conference this year where the basic principles of international law to prevent devastating wars and conflicts in the 21st century should be spelt out.
"In the 21st century, we all need peace. This is a key mission of our time," Mr Nazarbayev reiterated.
"My Manifesto: The World. The 21st century, reflects a sincere concern for the fate of future generations, which will live and work in the coming decades. We, the leaders of states and politicians, bear an enormous responsibility for the future of humanity," he said.
"We need to do our utmost to free humanity from the threat of deadly wars forever. There is no more important goal," Mr Nazarbayev concluded.
For e-version, go to www.sphcountryspecial.sg