Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev was among the first politicians of the international level to have brought the new global challenges of our time to the notice of humankind and mainstreamed the agenda of peace and nuclear non-proliferation worldwide.
As Nazarbayev wrote in his manifesto, “The World. The 21st Century,” 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. Our civilisation, by scholars’ estimates, has survived more than 15,000 wars, approximately three every year. Hundreds of millions of people have died, cities and countries have been destroyed, cultures and civilisations have vanished.
At the dawn of the 21st century, stunning scientific discoveries are being made, and new technologies are being invented. Humankind is entering a qualitatively new stage of its development. The world is at the verge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Many horrific diseases are being successfully eradicated. But 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. It may even in the future infect the development of artificial intelligence. Militarism has deeply penetrated our minds and behaviour.
There are more than one billion small firearms in the hands of people. Thousands of civilians die every day from their use. 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.
In international relations, the risk of conflict has increased. Conflict has engulfed the historic battlegrounds of the two World Wars – Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is not fulfilling its purpose. Nuclear weapons and the technology that produces them have spread all over the world due to the double standards of the large powers. It may be just a matter of time before they fall into the hands of terrorists.
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.
The exodus of millions of refugees, the destruction of sites and historic monuments has become an everyday reality.
Economic sanctions and trade wars are commonplace. Our planet is now on the edge of a new Cold War, which could have devastating consequences for all humankind. This threatens the achievements of the last four decades.
As a result of successful negotiations of the second half of the 20th century, the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia have been reduced substantially. Five nuclear powers have announced and kept a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing.
The threat of destruction of the planet was significantly reduced. The process of forming regional security systems has accelerated. A unique and comprehensive security structure – the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe – was created on principles of mutual trust. Coordinated action between world powers and UN peacekeeping operations saw many conflicts ended.
However, today we are witnessing the erosion of these international security achievements.
“In the 21st century humanity must take decisive steps towards demilitarisation. We will not get another chance. If this objective is not achieved, our planet will end as a graveyard of radioactive materials. Our planet is unique. We have no other home,” Nazarbayev noted.
The author is an analyst with Liter newspaper.