Atle Hetland This is the last year in the 2001-2010 International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has played a key role in developing materials and coordinating activities related to the decade under the slogan, Peace is in Our Hands. And I should say, Peace is in Your Hands, if you are a teenager or in your early twenties. You have to do what we, who are middle-aged and beyond, could not do. When the United Nations was created in 1945, its main purpose was to contribute to peaceful international coexistence so that wars would never happen again. The UNESCO was precisely set up to contribute to the exchange of knowledge, ideas and values. Its constitution underlines how people must learn to think differently in order to become able to live peacefully together. It was strongly believed that people learn to live together by living together, by travelling, by communicating, reading books from various countries, studying abroad, carrying out joint research projects, visiting other countries during holidays, and so on. Today, many young people in the West have this opportunity, and in developing countries, the youth in the wealthier segments of the populations have similar opportunities. The social media is cheap and has opened up new ways of international contact and exchange. Schools have linkages with sister schools abroad. The first major programme was UNES-COs famous Associated Scho-ols Project Network (ASP-Net), with some 300 Pakistani member schools, and about 10,000 worldwide. International migration can be a positive way of increasing greater international understanding, and through that peaceful coexistence. Statistics show that about seven million Pakistanis have migrated or live abroad. Worldwide there are hundreds of million migrants, but the figures are not accurate. Some will return home permanently, especially if they have lived abroad as foreign workers, but the majority is likely to stay-on abroad. In Norway, my home country, the largest group of non-European immigrants comes from Pakistan. Over 15 percent of the people in the capital Oslo are Muslims. Norway and the other Scandinavian countries take large groups of refugees. Pakistan, on its side, is the largest host country for refugees in absolute terms, mainly from Afghanistan. As we have recently seen on TV and read about it in the newspapers, Europe and America are no longer as open to immigrants, foreign workers and refugees. In France, a number of Roma people (Gypsies), mostly originating from Romania, have been expelled. The European Union (EU) has criticised Frances actions in strong words. Europe and North America welcome immigrants and cherish cultural and religious diversity, multicu-lturalism, and 'brain-drain that they gain from. In the coming years and decades, we must develop fairer systems for migration, and we must indeed find systems to curtail illegal migration, especially people smuggling and trafficking. Since the tragic events in New York and Washington in America on September 11, 2001, the term 'war on terror has been frequently used. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan followed under this 'banner. Many believe the world has become less secure, not more secure, through the way the West in particular is fighting against terrorism. I do not believe that extremist groups, and other antisocial groups, can be won over by military force, or other heavy-handedness. Positive and inclusive approaches are needed to win over dissidents. In Pakistan, and in all other developing countries, and also rich countries, in future, the major conflicts will be between the rich and the poor. Globally, about two billion of the worlds more than seven billion people live at a poverty level, which is unacceptable. However, the rich countries in the West continue to be the main perpetrators. The German moral philosopher, Thomas Pogge, has described this situation as the worst crime in history against humanity, worse even than that of the Nazi regime during the Second World War. In the last six decades or so, the West has tried to cushion the huge disparities between rich and poor countries through development and humanitarian aid. However, we must admit that the aid has been far too little and the concrete results have been poor, in spite of a number of useful projects and programmes. Still aid should increase for some time, and at the same time, a fairer international trade system must be developed. The term structural violence, as opposed to direct violence, i.e. wars and violent conflicts, describes socioeconomic relations, particularly between countries and continents that are deeply unjust and unfair, established through historical processes and events and allowed to be left unchanged. It is up to those who are young today to find ways and means of changing the terrible inequalities between rich and poor within and between countries, groups, men and women, and other groups. When I was young, we believed in the United Nations initiative to create a New International Economic Order (NIEO). It came too close to nothing, but UNCTAD is still there, and it can be revived. But then, of course, the rich will usually not give away privileges just like that - unless it becomes politically, morally and religiously unacceptable to stubbornly stick to the old ways. Slavery was abolished some 150 years ago; the Civil Rights Movement in America in the 1950s and 1960s got rid of the institutionalised racial discrimination there; apartheid in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa was ended in the 1980s and 1990s; womens emancipation and greater gender equality, especially in the West, has become a reality in the last few decades; everywhere, there is reduced discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, etc. But much work still remains in order to create the world we all believe in, or say we believe in, a world where all forms of discrimination have been removed, as stated by International Human Rights Declaration. A lot was actually done in the last 50 to 60 years, in my lifetime. But todays youth have continued the work before it is too late, and before more conflicts break out. Conflicts are precisely going to happen because of inequalities, but inequalities and disparities can be changed into equality for all, in a multitude of fields. We must continue to discuss and reason about how to do it. Establish relevant networks and organisations. Often there will be disagreement. We must not fear disagreement as long as it is peaceful, and follow accepted rules and ways of solving disagreement and transcending old-fashioned ways. If everything seems harmonious, it is probably because people live apart and away from each other. It is how we include the minorities, not only the strong and powerful that tell our real commitment to integration and diversity. Some people think that there is a conflict between world religions, Islam and Christianity in particular. I dont think there is and that there will be. If there are some conflicts between people, who mainly belong to one or the other religion, it is because of other characteristics of the people. The conflict would rather be based on the need for dominance, including culture, economy and territorial claims or strategies, not religion alone. And I also think that is better that the major religions in the world have some differences, rather than that they are 'ganging up against the rest. I would rather have religious diversity than one dominant world religion. The same applies to superpowers. The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist currently based in Islamabad. Email: