"If we are to teach real peace in the world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children"
— Mahatma Gandhi
A modern school has a social responsibility to educate children to be useful to the society and to prepare them to shoulder responsibilities when they grow up. The present world scenario presents a grim picture, as there are many problems which endanger the very existence of human species, flora and fauna and all life on earth. Many problems are multiplying faster than the efforts to contain them. Lawlessness and terrorism have raised their heads- ugliest in the history of mankind. The situation is stark and dreadful. The future of World's children and of generations yet unborn has become progressively more unprotected and insecure during the past six decades since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is fear of another war which may be more devastating especially because of the large stockpile of weapons of mass destruction with many countries of the world or because there are chances of nuclear technology falling in the hands of terrorists or non-state entities.
Global warming and climate change, devastating diseases like HIV/AIDS threaten the existence of mankind. Many countries are facing problems of poverty, hunger, lack of basic amenities and education. Children in many countries are the worst sufferers due to civil and ethnic wars, drug abuse, trafficking and many more. In such a world scenario the apprehension of children is not unfounded.
CMS holds 32 international events (including Conferences of teachers and educationists) in which a large number of children from India and abroad participate. They express their apprehension that their elders have done great injustice to them by making deadly armaments - without realizing its consequences on children and future generations. Therefore, it is the duty of the present generation to meet the challenges and try to address the present day problems in order to give our children and future generations a better inheritance than the one bequeathed to us. At the same time it is incumbent upon us to prepare children to meet challenges ahead. In this connection a modern school has to play an important role. The City Montessori School (CMS), Lucknow, India has a special philosophy, vision and mission of empowering its children and youth to become protagonists of a dual process of individual and societal transformation ushering in an era of universal peace and brotherhood.
The City Montessori School is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest school in a single city with over 50,000 students on roll at present. In the year 2002, CMS was honoured with the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, which it received "in recognition of its efforts to promote the universal values of education for peace and tolerance at a time when these values are increasingly being challenged." In his congratulatory speech while presenting the award, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO said, "At a time when, in India as in the rest of the world, religious, sectarian and nationalistic hatreds are threatening to tear apart whole communities and are destabilizing many regions, CMS is to be congratulated for promoting the values of peace, religious harmony, tolerance and coexistence among children – the next generation of decision-makers – and, through them, among their parents and communities." CMS is also recipient of the '2004 Nuclear-free Future Special Achievement Award' and the 'World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child' as well as the Dalai Lama’s “Hope for Humanity” award.
CMS believes that the future of the world and the destiny of humankind can be shaped in the classrooms and schools of the world. ' . CMS, therefore, upholds that a school must act as the 'Lighthouse of Society' to provide meaningful education, spiritual direction and leadership to students, parents and society – and that a modern school must be concerned with the affairs of the age. CMS believes that at a certain moment in human history, education must also act as a powerful instrument of profound social transformation and that such a moment has now arrived. Nelson Mandela said 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can choose to change the world'.
Accordingly CMS has adopted a pattern of education which includes imparting of such instructions to students so as to bring about social transformation suited to the 21st century. Children are the common denominator for all societies and nations. They are the leaders of tomorrow. Being aware of its responsibility as the world's largest school whose educational approach has been recognized by the UNESCO, CMS considers itself duty-bound to endeavour for welfare of world's over two billion children and generations yet-to-be-born. CMS is preparing students to become proactive agents of social transformation and to take up leadership role to lead the world into an era of world unity and world peace. Mahatma Gandhi has said that "If we are to teach real peace in the world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children." Inspired by the philosophy and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, CMS had begun teaching world unity to its students right from the first day of its establishment in 1959.To move in this direction, CMS applies the holistic concept of education envisioned in the Bahá’iwritings and has enriched its experience of integrating spiritual, human and material education in its curriculum. CMS is guided by the philosophy of “the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”
The Emerging International Order:
It is a cause of grave concern that in spite of the establishment of global institutions of peace and justice such as the United Nations Organization and its affiliated bodies, humanity today is faced with intractable problems. Although every nation knows that the only chance of survival of its people is to cooperate with other nations of the world, they are still not able to transcend the boundaries of national sovereignty, mistrust and hatred. As the world gallops towards the 'tipping point', our children face an uncertain future. Jan Tinbergen, a Nobel Laureate had said: "Mankind's problems can no longer be solved by national governments. What is needed is a World Government. This can best be achieved by strengthening the United Nations System." We at CMS value this and other similar views expressed on the issue and believe that there is urgent need for enforceable world law and for empowering the 'International Court of Justice' as the 'World Court of Justice' with wider jurisdiction. In this regard, Article 51 of the Constitution of India acts as a beacon which provides for promoting international peace and security, as also for fostering respect for international law.
The present global scenario and interdependence among nations require quick and appropriate adjustments. Time has come for nations, as well as individuals, to deeply think what they want. If the countries want peace, they must understand that the problem must be approached basically. Change is inevitable in the fast changing world, organizations have to change their visions and role to meet the exigencies of the situations and prepare to meet the challenges of the present era. Scientific and technological advancement have brought far reaching changes and this development is marked by an ever increasing interdependence not only of states but regions also. Large amounts were, and are being, spent on manufacture, research and development of more deadly weapons and their delivery systems. Such expenditure is several times larger than the amount spent on welfare.
CMS firmly believes that it is our bounden duty and obligation to preserve this world for the sake of children and future generations. They have a right over us, and on that foundation we have got to be acting as trustees and to see that no more destruction and wars take place and all the problems which threaten the very existence and survival of humankind are tackled so that we are able to pass on to our children a brighter inheritance than that which was bequeathed to us. It is in this background that CMS has been organizing since the year 2001, 'International Conferences of Chief Justices of the World' to deliberate on the issue of a safe and secure future for humanity. We believe that the Hon’ble Chief Justices judges with their dedication to justice, impartiality and regard to universal values and law are highly esteemed and trusted by all sections of the society and, therefore, their well-considered impartial views in the matter will have wider effect and must, therefore, be valued. Children are common denominator for all nations of the world. They have abundant faith in Judiciary. Views of world judiciary can compel politicians to take steps to bring about change in global scenario for safety and prosperity of humanity. Madam Justice Graciala Dixon, Chief Justice of Panama, said 'We judges can change the realities' Chief Justice of Philippines – Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. has opined that 'the children born and yet-to-be-born have the right to a safe ecology and a safe future'. A large number of Chief Justices and Judges from around the world have supported the cause of children for which changes are imperative at global level which is possible only by enforceable world law enacted by a duly constituted World Parliament and by creation of World Court of Justice with wider jurisdiction. In the last 15 conferences held so far 780 Chief Justices and Judges and legal luminaries from 114 countries have participated.
In these conferences the Chief Justices and Judges have endorsed the idea of enforceable international (or world) law applicable to all nation-states and also to all peoples. A law to be enforceable on all nation-states and peoples has to be enacted by a Parliament duly constituted and recognized by all the nation-states and, therefore, such a World Parliament should be created. For interpretation of such law and for dispensing justice there has to be a World Court or International Court of Justice with wider jurisdiction. With this end in view these conferences have, in the resolutions, recommended strengthening of the U.N.O. which is possible only if U.N. Charter is revised so as to accommodate the desired changes. These resolutions do not seek to criticize and diminish the prestige of UNO, but seek to strengthen the authority, prestige and power of the UN for its effective role at the world scenario to address problems facing humanity. Since UNO is the largest single organization of the world concerned with world unity and peace as also with welfare and development, we cannot ignore it. However, it has to be more representative and democratic organization with a World Parliament to enact laws to regulate international behaviour and a world executive to enforce world laws. The Resolutions passed in these conferences also stress upon making peace, human rights and cross-cultural education an essential part of the school curricula throughout the world.
It is universally accepted that global problems require global solutions and in this era of interdependence combined political will alone can change the situation. In the changing world scenario, the role of global organizations has to be changed so as to meet the exigencies of the situation; and for this to happen, it is expedient to have mutual consultations. We believe that such consultation will not be possible under the aegis of the United Nations because the Charter of the United Nations cannot be amended or revised because of the provisions of Article 108 and 109 of the Charter unless the five Veto Powers agree to such amendment or revision and that the Veto Powers will not agree to relinquish their superior status or power. Therefore, if Heads of all nation states can come together on a common platform, other than the platform of United Nations, with a positive frame of mind and discuss the issue of effective global governance in the interest of humanity, this beautiful planet Earth can be saved and our children and future generations will live in a safer and secure world in an atmosphere of love, and not fear. Such a meeting would go a long way, in the changing world scenario, in persuading all nations to accept changes required in global organizations in the interest of humanity. In case this is not possible due to insistence of powers dominating the organization, other options may be considered.
It is in this background that the Founder-Manager of CMS, Dr.Jagdish Gandhi, has initiated the International Conferences of the Chief Justices of the World as a forum for discussion and positive action to tackle such crucial issues. Such action has already begun. In these annual International Conferences of Chief Justices, the Chief Justices of Supreme Courts and High Courts of the world are invited to come to Lucknow and deliberate on the theme of the conference. Details of the previous conferences including photographs, messages, and speeches delivered, and resolutions passed are available on the school's website: www.cmseducation.org/article51.