A difficult, challenging task
Guyana Chronicle
January 27, 2003

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NATION-BUILDING is a tedious, difficult and challenging task, especially for small developing countries such as Guyana.

Developing nations, being young and emerging from the shackles of colonialism, in many instances, brutal post-colonial repression and dictatorship, are finding that increasingly the process of nation-building is painful and one of huge complexities - having to deal with issues of crime, genocide, narco-trafficking, terrorism, civil wars, moral decay and the economy.

In the past four decades mankind has witnessed some of the most ruthless, horrible and brutal acts of genocide and terrorism leaving those societies affected in a state of trauma and ravaged - Rwanda, Bosnia, Mozambique, Afghanistan, the Congo, are some of the examples that readily come to mind.

Many trouble spots remain, such as the Middle East and in some countries in Africa, while in other countries wars and genocide have ended and they now have the unenviable and daunting task of rebuilding.

With great sacrifice, patience, determination and cooperation they will succeed because mankind possesses incredible resilience. History is replete with instances where nations have been ravaged, but were able to successfully rebuild through astonishingly resilient efforts.

Are these massacres of people and wanton destruction of property avoidable?

The answer is yes, because the conflicts that lead to genocide and the like, in most cases, are man-made and fuelled by individuals and even some countries to gain materially and economically from these trouble-spots.

It is only reasonable and logical to assume that if man creates these difficulties then he should have the capacity to avoid/end them.

The magazine `Development', issue No. 20 of the fourth quarter of 2002, observes: "The 'art of nation building' is not new as it sometimes appears, but that doesn't make it any less vital. It is in no one's interest for a region to descend into chaos, and sometimes this requires the painstaking restoration of a ruined state - and, on occasion, the creation of something new."

But what should be the priorities of the nation-building process?

Maybe the High Representative of the international community for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Paddy Ashdown has the answer: "First justice. Then jobs. Through reform."

He added: "The rule of law is the starting point for a decent life and for progress in everything we do."

Here in Guyana the rule of law is definitely under threat with increasingly ominous signs every day - criminals who seem bent on destroying the rule of law and driving the country into anarchy.

However, it must recognised that nation-building is not the responsibility only of the government. It is the responsibility of the entire citizenry who must work cohesively and with grit to ensure the process of nation-building is successful.

The international community also has a moral responsibility in helping the process because in many cases those acts of genocide and barbarism are as a result of inactivity on their part. In any case those countries would not have the resources to unilaterally and effectively execute the nation-building process.

"Nation-building has not been traditionally viewed as the proper responsibility of the 'international community, but in the last decade it has increasingly come to be seen as a viable strategy - in some cases as the only strategy - for addressing the problem of failed states," Paddy Ashdown opined.

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