Director General, UNOG
UN Plaza, Geneva
November 8th, 2018
Dear Director General Moeller:
We have indicated that we are here to discuss the Jai Jagat 2020 action with you. We have put down the points which we thought relevant to the discussion.
In beginning this conversation, there are two overarching principles that we humbly bring to your attention:
1. In the spirit of Gandhi 150th anniversary celebrated over the course of a year up to October 2nd, 2020, we intend to highlight the overarching principle of nonviolence. This means that the Jai Jagat campaign is encouraging people to redouble their efforts to deal with the deep conflicts both for preempting war, and also for curbing violence brought on by poverty, social exclusion and ecological destruction. Some people express today that we face existential threats like never before in history that require us to focus on the survival of humankind.
Gandhi introduced the term nonviolence, even though it was not a common term in western development for purposes of focusing nonviolence or peace not only as an end –peaceful societies, but also nonviolence was “a means”. Gandhi said: “the means may be linked to a seed, the seed to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connections between the seed and the tree”. We may say simply that nonviolent actions are the (only) way to achieve nonviolence and peace.
The Jai Jagat campaign emphasizes nonviolent training before the planned marches, in the marches and at the site of the Geneva action. This is based on many years of experience in India where people’s social action at the grassroots engaged in nonviolent dialogue, and in finding solutions in challenging problems. An example of this is Ekta Parishad.
2. The second overarching principle is inclusion. Specifically the participation of the most marginalized and poor in development. The UN provides civil society with consultative status, but people living at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy do not need to be consulted, they need to be participants. People at the grassroots are underestimated, treated as “targets” and in the process dehumanized. If listened to, they have solutions for solving poverty-related problems. Oftentimes our well-intentioned programs do not enable them to be engaged, empowered and contributors to society. By dehumanizing large populations, we create deep social conflicts. Migration, displacement and loss of resources are some of the root causes of conflicts.
The UN family has taken up the SDGs as a way to counter some of these problems framed on the principle of inclusion, “no one left behind’. This is admirable and we congratulate you and others that have brought this into the UN.
The Jai Jagat is aimed at aligning itself with the SDGs. It is also necessary that there be the space for people from the grassroots to show where this may not be working, so that dialogue can be furthered between civil society and UN agency personnel. Even though it is recognized that it is in purview of the member states to carry out the SDGs, civil society plays an important role at the national/international levels to make government accountable. A civil society including people’s organizations is highlighted. This is why the Jai Jagat march and Geneva action will advance the views of grassroots groups and social movements to the extent possible.
In visualizing how the collaboration could be extended between the UN Geneva and the Jai Jagat, we propose actions under the following headings of: (1) nonviolent training; (2) marches to Geneva; and (3) the Geneva action.
(1) Nonviolent Training;
We propose based on the experience of nonviolent training organizations to:
1.1 Mainstream nonviolence in the UN bodies and agencies with the aim of integrating nonviolence into accountability and evaluatory structures in a similar manner that has effectively been done in gender mainstreaming or environmental assessments.
1.2 Build off ongoing initiatives like the Geneva Peace Week to take on more nonviolent training. Working with UNITAR and other training units to build a greater sensitivity to nonviolence.
1.3 Interface with different UN agencies including nonviolence where possible. An example is in the interagency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (SEE).
1.4 Promoting Gandhi’s 150th celebrations
2. Marches to Geneva: October 2nd 2019 to October 2nd, 2020
2.1 In the various marches through member states, to have the relevant UN agencies (such as UNDP) to be notified that the march is coming through the country, and if possible encourage people to support and/or join the various planned events.
2.2 To have a point person to coordinate the UN welcome as the marchers enter into Geneva and to see that the UN is providing moral support.
2.3 To ensure that the any local actions of the Jai Jagat are coordinated with any regular UN peace activity or SDG activity so that the UN can extend its agenda.
2.4 To see if a SDG campaign (like the earlier Millennium campaign) can operate with parallel programs to the Jai Jagat, so that the SDGs are strengthened.
3. Geneva Weeklong Action
3.1 To find ways of working with UN agencies, and UN bodies so that interactions with the Geneva program can be done, such for example, dealing with one theme every day over the eight days.
3.2 To gain the involvement of senior UN leaders to attend interactions or cultural events.
3.3 To explore whether the UN Secretary General can address the Jai Jagat marchers in Geneva.
3.4 To set up a planning committee in UNOG consisting of UN and civil society organizations.
We thank you for your attention to this matter.
Rajagopal, P.V. and Jill Carr-Harris