Malaysia celebrates UN international Day of non violence
“Mediation has to enter its next phase of Development”- International Cross Cultural specialist tells the UN.
Addressing an audience of some 300 people made up of leading judges, constitutional lawyers, medical practitioners, international diplomats and prominent business people, Dr Mohamed Keshavjee, well known specialist on cross cultural mediation said that “mediation now has to enter its next phase of global development if it is to fulfill its basic promise”. He was speaking at Kuala Lumpur’s prestigious Lake Club on 2nd October to celebrate the 2017 Annual Gandhi Memorial Trust lecture as the keynote speaker to mark Malaysia’s observance of the UN International Day of Non-Violence which was opened by Stefan Priesner, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
Referring to the Sustainable Development Goals, which is a comprehensive roadmap that brings the social, environmental and economic dimensions together towards ensuring an improvement in the quality of life for those furthest behind, Priesner highlighted 3 main underpinnings: Peaceful and inclusive societies; protection of harmony and cultural diversity and the link between non- violence and the environment.
“Gandhi,” he said “reminded us that the Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed”
Keshavjee highlighted to the audience the reasons why mediation has gained traction in the world. Courts are clogged globally, litigation is becoming progressively expensive and the “adversarial system”, he emphasized, “has to a large extent failed the human family”. He cited numerous examples where mediation today was the preferred option and these ranged from family issues and neighborhood disputes to cases of professional negligence, mass torts such as breast implant cases and environmental degradation, to Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. In international conflict, he stressed, “mediation has the greatest chance of reaching a lasting solution”.
He focused on 4 leading figures of the 20th century whose conflict interactions could inform the next phase of development which is Transformative Mediation. These are Mahatma Gandhi, The Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr, Nelson Mandela and Dr Daisaku Ikeda, the Japanese scholar of non violence. Keshavjee explained that conflict leads to negative feelings such as alienation, mutual demonization, self absorption and a general feeling of pain and anguished-feelings that affect all protagonists. Transformative Mediation helps people to change the paradigm from demonization to recognition, from hate to love and from self absorption and grievance rhetoric to enablement and new hope. “These moral icons ensured that their social activism was informed by deep philosophical reflection and through their conflict relationships were able to transform millions of lives throughout the world”. Keshavjee cited satyagraha or truth- force which Gandhi developed and used in his struggle against racial discrimination in South Africa, Ubuntu a humanizing attribute which is so deeply ingrained in the African culture and which inspired Nelson Mandela to promote the healing process to take place after the end of apartheid, the agape concept which Martin Luther King Jnr. followed to champion the civil rights movement in the USA and the work of the Japanese pacifist Daisaku Ikeda which is followed by the Soka Gakai movement he founded and which has spread to over 192 countries today.
Referring to the present so called “post truth” society fuelled by exponential technology and the social media, Keshavjee stressed the need to recapture the narrative, which he said has to be based on ethical thinking and moral reasoning. “We may not have too much time as Mother Nature, Globalization and Technology are proceeding at an exponential rate, far outstripping the human capacity to grapple with the implications of this rapid change”. The need of the day is greater respect for pluralism and the harnessing of talent of all to bring about a greater understanding between people. While in Malaysia, Keshavjee will address the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur on “Cosmopolitan Ethics” on Friday 4th October and the Penang Institute, a leading think thank on Monday 9th October in Penang as guest of Malaysia’s former UNDP resident representative Dato Anwar Fazal, recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (known popularly as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) and Chairperson of a nonprofit entity called “Think City a community- centered platform for advancing the UNESCO World Heritage site in Penang which has worked in close collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
Dr Keshavjee, recipient of the 2016 Gandhi, King, Ikeda Peace Award, is also a trustee of the Darwin International Institute for the Study of Compassion(DIISC), an organization committed to producing the future Darwin scholars of Compassion. The DIISC has partnered with some 16 academic institutions in the UK USA and Canada and is now developing new partnerships with universities in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, India and Central Asia with a hub in Asia to explore new ways of embracing the concept of compassion in the teaching of various disciplines through a multidisciplinary approach. The family of Charles Darwin the great evolutionary biologist who worked at the University of Shropshire have lent their support to this global endeavor with his great, great, granddaughter, the well known poet Ruth Padel, acting as patron of the Board Of Trustees.
“ Alternative Dispute Resolution” Keshavjee said “ to give more than a litigated settlement, has to provide the means to be a transformative experience and for this, we need to draw from a number of sources , not least of which are the principles of our respective faiths. They provide the moral compass for healing to take place”
— The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. This day is referred to in India as Gandhi Jayanti.