I heard of Vijay Mehta’s book while visiting London in late 2017. Upon reading it, I was quickly absorbed by the sound contents and fine writing style. Mehta has been a peace activist for decades, underscored by a number of other publications. Importantly, he possesses a vision for how to attain global peace and he has studied the European Union (EU) meticulously. Mehta highlights ten pillars that the EU has developed in the course of its lifespan for bringing peace to Europe for the past 70 years. His research must be understood in this broader context, assessing a continent that for centuries waged in war and destroyed countries and livelihoods of the populations in its wake. The pillars, institutionalized within the EU in various ways, are well known, but few have seen them for their role in peacemaking as Mehta does. Although he offers counterarguments from various angles before laying them to rest, Mehta’s main and strongly argued message is that these pillars can be applied elsewhere to other continents for making and maintaining peace.
The ten pillars are: first, enshrined democracy and rule of law; second, economic truce; third, open borders and human ties; fourth, soft power and shared values; fifth, permanent discussion, dialogue, and diplomacy; sixth, financial incentives and support; seventh, veto and consensus building, eighth, resistance to external interference; ninth, rules, human rights, and multiculturalism; and tenth, mutual trust and peaceful coexistence. The tenth pillar is seen as the result of the nine foregoing ones. All ten pillars are adequately elaborated; they are interlinked and interdependent and are all required for bringing peace to a region. Not a single one can be left out.
Mehta examines the extent to which the ten pillars predominate in existent regional organizations around the world, and he finds that some do in all of the regional organizations as well as in those that are located where war still wages fiercely. In cases where most of the pillars are applied, peace is possible and is settling in. One such example is in South America, where the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) resides and where one can compare the current situation to the decades before UNASUR’s founding in 2004. More generally, Mehta traces the development toward the adherence of all ten pillars in all regional organizations around the world, which in his view closely observe the functioning of the EU or want to copy it at some stage.
The book deserves a wide readership for pointing out the peacemaking effects of the EU, as well as for outlining how peace can be attained on a global scale. The fact that the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 is a testament to this. Further, the work sheds light on an aspect of the value of EU membership, which populations of EU member countries tend to take for granted, as the EU is overwhelmingly valued for bringing economic progress—the institutionalization of peace.
Mehta has a strong point and he pursues it vigorously. His book is a positive read in an unstable world where more than 20 wars and well over 100 conflicts predominate the global scene. It is important to be reminded that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that a template for peace exists. Mehta’s writing style is catchy and amusing from time to time. He turns what some might consider dry stuff into interesting research. Read the book and get wiser. It is an eye opener that will please pacifists and all who strive for peace at the global level.
Hanne Christensen is a cultural sociologist and a former UN official with extensive experience in peacemaking programmes and a supporter of Uniting for Peace has written a review of Peace Beyond Borders. The review appeared in “Peace Review” a journal published by Taylor & Francis Group, under the Routledge imprint.
You can read the original article here.