After more than 50 days of unprecedented political turmoil, the new United National Front government has recommitted itself to work towards its 2015 vision and goals -- a just, peaceful and all-inclusive society with interracial and inter-religious unity in diversity. Such pledges have often been made before and most people have become justifiably cynical. Thus we hope that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government will practise what it preaches and preach only what it practises. More than ever before Sri Lanka needs political leaders who are gifted with the virtues of honesty and integrity with the grace to sincerely, sacrificially and selflessly serve the people, especially the millions who are caught up in a poverty trap. For too long, most politicians -- perhaps corrupted by power and the resultant greed to get more -- have been doing business in politics. This must stop and stern legal action taken against those found to be involved in bribery, corruption or other frauds.
These reflections come to mind as the world today marks the United Nations International Human Solidarity Day with the world body saying the new sustainable development goals (SDGs) agenda is centred on the people and the planet, underpinned by human rights and supported by a global partnership determined to lift people out of poverty, hunger and disease. It will be thus built on a foundation of global cooperation and solidarity.
According to the UN, today we need to celebrate our unity in diversity. It is a day for governments to remember their commitments to international agreements, a day to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity, a day to encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the SDGs including poverty eradication and a day of action to encourage new initiatives for a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources.
Solidarity is identified in the Millennium Declaration as one of the fundamental values of international relations in the 21st Century, wherein those who either suffer or benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most. Consequently, in the context of globalization and the challenge of growing inequality, strengthening of international solidarity is indispensable. Therefore, the UN General Assembly, convinced that the promotion of the culture of solidarity and the spirit of sharing is important for combating poverty, proclaimed December 20 as International Human Solidarity Day.
Through initiatives such as the establishment of the World Solidarity Fund to eradicate poverty and the proclamation of International Human Solidarity Day, the concept of solidarity was promoted as crucial in the fight against poverty and in the involvement of the relevant stakeholders.
The concept of solidarity has defined the work of the UN since the birth of the organization. The creation of the UN drew the people and the nations of the world together to promote peace, human rights and social and economic development. The organization was founded on a basic premise of unity and harmony among its members expressed in the concept of collective security that relies on the solidarity of its members to unite to maintain international peace and security, the UN says. But there are major questions as to what extent these goals have been achieved, especially in this era of populism and extreme nationalism. For instance we regularly see United States President Donald Trump scoffing at the UN goals and even describing the vital issue of climate change as a Chinese hoax.
In Sri Lanka where people of four major religions live, we have the potential to achieve unity in diversity, poverty alleviation and make significant progress in the battle against global warming or climate change. What is lacking is good political leadership and example and we hope we will see that in the coming year or two when provincial, presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held.