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Time to Reboot Leadership in International Affairs

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 7/03/2016 Umesh Mukhi
UN © Fuse via Getty Images UN

If you take a glimpse at media coverage or think tank reports in past few years you will notice that unfortunately we don't fall short of issues related human security and human rights. In fact it is a matter of discussion and debate all across the world which will never cease to end. Think about it, so far there are around 9 million Syrians who have fled their homes, according to UNHCR there are around 3,321,761 refugees who have migrated to neighboring countries of Syria, 1117,010 refugees are yet waiting their registration.
Another serious issue is of climate change which according to Guardian is causing the death of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% of global GDP. Lastly, we cannot afford to ignore the ongoing tension and after math of Ukrainian Crises, ISIS Threat, Arab Spring, War in Iraq and Afghanistan which has consumed lives of innocent children and families. Certainly, given this status quo in certain parts of the world, we should be thankful and fortunate enough to live where we don't get to see these conditions. However, we just can't afford to ignore the facts and merely continue with our sympathies without challenging our own mindset and ideology in order to bring solutions to the most complex humanitarian issues.
The status quo as of now, US & Europe are having bitter time with Russia. ISIS continues to terrorize and victimize nation states and has caused a stir in international community, the tension and conflict in Middle East is yet to see the daylight of peace. These issues are directly or indirectly linked with NATO and transatlantic community and their capacity to bring solutions to them. It is here we witness the paradoxical nature of humanitarian issues. For example , US has been at the forefront in its war against terrorism and promoting democracy in middle east, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan , but still after several years of war we are yet to witness peace and democracy there. On the other end, the US continues to face its own national issues related to Gun Shootings at Campus and the most recent racist issues. The US and Russia standoff didn't helped to resolve the Syrian conflict which continues to devastate Syria. The EU, known for its peace and stability faces severe criticism from Greece, and Portugal who are at the forefront of bearing austerities. It is important to recall the incident of June 11, 2013, where the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced the closure of ERT, Greece's public broadcaster, after 75 years of continuous operation which has sparked a major controversy in Greece thus challenging the nature of democracy at its very source. The EU member states are dealing with their own internal issues related to religious intolerance, unemployment, immigration and inclusive growth. And therefore verily in such crisis the member states lose their credibility where they by themselves have been incapable to solve their own internal affairs and have been dealing with the external affairs with a fixed mindset. Solutions from fixed mindset come in various forms such as massive investment or economic sanctions, austerities, military action, embargo, heavy taxation etc. Their impact could be dangerous, what we are witnessing now is the spillover effect across continents causing migration, unemployment, social unrest and civil war due to which generations are at stake. I am sure that any head of the state must have come across the famous quote of Mandela
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
Through this quote Mandela explicitly contends that verily we have been treating the effects and outcomes of problems but we are not treating the root cause of it. Thus the challenge for us collectively is that How do we resolve this? How can we bring solutions to this?

Sustainable Leadership as a leadership paradigm

Albert Einstein noted that
"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
Here Einstein is hinting us to step up our vision and take a new route to resolve issues. It is here I believe member states have to develop flexible mindset in dealing with issues and have to develop an overarching vision of leadership and its impact. We call it as Sustainable Leadership (SL). Einstein rightly stated "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it".
Thus considering this approach in our context of international affairs, as a concept per se "Sustainable Leadership" is deeply rooted in decision making which is based on human consciousness rather than following the traditional diplomatic line of thought. SL fundamentally challenges the conventional leadership paradigm and their short sightedness; on the contrary SL presumes that leadership should have a positive intergenerational impact.
In response to extremism and growing intolerance and bias amongst religions, SL encourages to embrace and understand diverse religions, their common message and thereby promote interfaith dialogue. From the core, a member state or a leader exercising SL would pursue an approach which is holistic in nature and focused in uplifting the quality of human life by promoting the dialogue, innovation and unbiased interest in bringing forth the solutions. Every problem has a cause and effect and therefore, thus SL compels leaders to reflect on their own values and resolve the cause of problem rather than treating the effect of the problems. SL is rooted in following the fundamental principles of human values and therefore it is not prejudiced against one or the other form of functioning of member state. On the contrary it offers the flexibility to adapt the situation by guarding the fundamental values of every society and culture. Take the example of Bhutan, and its role in pioneering the concept of Gross National Happiness rather than focusing on GDP, another example is of Akhilesh Pillalamarri who challenges the concept of democracy in his article Why Monarchies Are Still Relevant and Useful in the 21st Century. Likewise we have many more examples which have been tested but still they await implementation.

What we need is a consensus from member states, to act collectively in unified spirit rather than acting under the diplomatic pressure. These are barely few examples which challenge the conventional paradigm of transatlantic community; there is no dearth of ideas and solutions. The key now is in the hands of member states whether they will single handedly or together will create a new boundary and redefine our expectation by surpassing traditional paradigm

The article was featured in the Op-Ed Section of Euro Atlantic Magazine 2014 Issue under title of Challenging the Leadership Paradigm of NATO, EU and Transatlantic Community

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