In Memorandum of flight MH 17 and Gaza victims 

July 22, 2014

Two disasters have been happening since last week: the first is the crash of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17, with the death of 193 Dutch citizens and 105 deaths of other nationalities (in total 298). The second is the Gaza attacks, which hits children and families. This is sad, really sad. I knew one of the MH17 victims, Tessa van der Sande, as one of my former co-trainees at the Advanced Master in International Development, 2013. Her parents and brother died with her. She was focussing on conflict resolutions, justice and peace building. I dedicate this blog to her, since she has inspired me to write this. 

My insight is that, before being able to build a real sustainable society in ecological, economic and social terms, first peace needs to exist. So, world peace is priority, otherwise we keep on surviving instead of living sustainably. With that in mind, and after reading Jan Pronk’s (former minister of foreign affairs, Netherlands) two documents (2012a and b), I’m of the opinion that we should focus on peacebuilding in a sustainable manner with the specific objective to tackle injustice/inequity, poverty, sustainability, geo-politics, political and religious oppression, conflicts, and violence. These are interrelated topics and should therefore be dealt with together. The Agenda for Peace also focused on some of these aspects: ‘After all, the aim was, ‘in the largest sense, to address the deepest causes of conflict: economic despair, social injustice and political oppression’ (Pronk, 2012a, p. 1). What about institutions and (other) policies? In the report of the United Nations (2013), titled ‘The Future we want’ on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, it is stated that ‘We need institutions at all levels that are effective, transparent, accountable and democratic’ (2013, p. 2). It furthermore reaffirms former documents and reports as to state it is in line with former policies. 

Alongside solving conflicts, sustainability should be the focus in order for us human being to survive and live prosperous lives. Yet, I understand that sustainability cannot always be the priority, since human lives, and thus the social and economic sides of sustainability, are at stake. Let us fight for them, the victims, and those to come! Let us fight for them all, and not only of our own nationalities. Let's wake up!

Let's work on solving conflicts and peacebuilding, in order to develop really sustainably. We must make the shift from 'I/ego' to 'we' 'there' and 'later (future generations'), also in dire times such as these. But meanwhile, remember: carpe diem! 

To Tessa: I wish I knew you better. I wish I talked to you more, to be inspired by you more. This is a disaster I, let alone your closed ones, can hardly grasp, but you will keep on inspiring me. I will remember you and try to do at least a little of the work you started. Be in peace dear Tessa!






Pronk, J. (2012,a). Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Hans Singer lecture 2012. Institute of Development Studies, Unievrsity of Sussex, Brighton, UK. November 14, 2012.

Pronk, J. (2012 b). Peacekeeping: Acting as a Good Tailor When the Need Arises. Erskine Childers Lecture, London, 10 September 2012.

United Nations. (2013). The future we want. Post- 2015 Development Agenda.

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