In 2020, coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) expanded rapidly triggering a global crisis. Many political leaders manipulated the occasion, spreading propaganda to gain popularity. They often used the spread of the virus as an excuse to oppress their own citizens and persecute minorities. Consequently, human rights, democracy, and civility globally declined; however, global peace slightly improved relative to the previous year due to political leaders being preoccupied with domestic matters from the virus.

Courage was shown by doctors and other health workers on the front lines who many times put their own health and livelihoods at risk to help others. Courage was shared by those who followed health protocols by staying home when they could, wearing masks, observing social distancing, and frequently washing hands. Sadly, the worst impact, as expected, was felt by the indigenous people due to poverty, lack of clean water, hygiene, and health services.

The rise of nationalism kept threatening the fabric of democracies and instilling fear in people, resulting in human rights abuses, arms proliferation, proxy wars, and waves of unsettled refugees.

Western countries, particularly the United States (US), suffered from a decline in political and civil rights. Discriminating against immigrants, forced migrants, and refugees both from the Middle East and Latin America continued. The Western politicians continued disseminating negative rhetoric against Muslims, causing increased Islamophobia, which caused unwarranted hardship on their own Muslim citizens. As part of the backlash in the spread of COVID-19, Asians faced discrimination and hate rhetoric leading to the movement ‘Stop Asian Hate’. The Western actions led many people to question whether they were truly open societies.

Humanitarian crises continued in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Congo, Libya, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, the Chinese crackdown of the ethnic Turks, India’s lynching of Muslims and Dalits, and the global oppression of the indigenous people persisted.

Discrimination against females remained widespread. Culturally, many people in overly populated countries like China and India continued preferring male offspring, leading to an influx of infanticide or patterns of “honor killings”. The female shortage in the population further exacerbated the sex trafficking issue in order to bring females back into the population. The #MeToo movement provided a continued platform for women to open up on their personal experiences and better corrective practices and measures to be put in place.

According to Amnesty International (AI), indigenous people constituted about 5 percent of the world’s population. Wherever they lived, they usually faced discrimination, oppression, exploitation, eviction, and other human rights abuses.

People became a serious threat to their own existence. Much of the world continued facing catastrophic wildfires, intense droughts, frequent and bigger tropical storms. In the pursuit of wealth, environmental pollution along with corruption, aggression, inequality, dreadful poverty, and armed conflicts persisted.

The UN veto powers (the US, the UK, Russia, China, and France) remained the culprit of much of the global problems. These powers continued stockpiling offensive chemical and nuclear weapons, arming other nations, having military presence in other countries, giving military aid to belligerent parties, and participating in military alliances. They continued being the first to violate their commitments to the UN, making them the world’s worst troublemakers.

Americans continued being deceived by the US government and its media into perceiving Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria as the sources of world tension. However, these other governments remained more globally peaceful as their military expenditures were by far much more restrained than that of the US. The US relationship with Saudi Arabia indirectly funded much of the terrorism and extremism that the West fought. The US arms proliferation kept contributing to the global conflicts, depriving the poor from opportunities, and leading to many shootings and deaths at home.

The US’ continual arming of Israel, in a very explosive region, was counterproductive. Israel remained as one of the world’s largest weapon exporters; it did not need arms. What Israel truly needed was to resolve the conflict with its neighbors and Native Palestinians and that was where the US should help.

Western media remained biased and disseminated propaganda in favor of its corporations and governments, right or wrong. For instance, the 2015 Zaria Massacre in Nigeria left 348 innocent peaceful worshipers dead and some burned alive did not make headlines and was soon forgotten, but the 2002 Iran’s stoning of a single man for adultery kept making headlines.

As the result of the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) in 2019, more improvements, accountabilities, and efforts were exerted across all industries to raise black voices and equality within the workspace.

In closing, some of the world problems could be addressed if we could work together to solve them. To start, the following actions would be helpful:

  1. Follow the recommendations by health authorities in handling coronavirus.
  2. Stand against injustice, oppression, and persecution everywhere.
  3. Advocate understanding, equality, compassion, love, and harmony.
  4. Vote for officials and leaders standing for brotherhood, freedom, and peace.
  5. Verify media’s information free from biases through independent sources.
  6. Honor and stand with indigenous people in respecting the environment.
  7. Recognize oneness in humanity, knowing that resources are abundant to feed, clothe, and share with one another.

We hope 2021 will be a better year for human rights, democracy, and peace.

Also, you may visit peaceworldwide.org, download our annual Civility Report, and join our Peace Contest. Let’s be peace-makers together!

May peace be with you!

Dr. Mehdi Alavi, President

Peace Worldwide Organization