Peace Scholar Post: Rachel Novacek

This semester I decided to take a course in management, figuring such skills could prove very useful in the future. This course has been a definite change of pace from my usual culture and language courses with a noteworthy shift from mostly theoretical thinking to very real-world cases. It was a bit of a culture shock to suddenly be surrounded by a class of Business majors. Through the class discussions I have been understanding more and more how my classmates think differently from me, often with a more practical and, at least what seemed to me, a rather callous approach to problems. When discussing whether or not a depressed employee who missed a meeting should be fired, my initial though was “of course not, he just needs help” but the classmates with whom I spoke thought the complete opposite.

As it most often happens when one is confronted with differing ways of thinking, this experience has been definitely advantageous. Such concrete real-world thinking was without a doubt something I needed to work on. And this course has also turned my attention to another very important pragmatic concept in the world of business, synergy, the idea that when separate parts of a system are functioning efficiently, the product of this whole is greater than the simple sum of the separate parts. Synergy has been the motivation for PepsiCo to buy Frito-Lay and for Disney Channel to cooperate with other companies such as J-14 Magazine. Such strategies have been a proven method for greater success of corporations.

Back in October when the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was announced as The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, I was rather surprised. My personal choice was Claudia Paz y Paz, Attorney General of Guatemala who was nominated by one of my favorite Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and fellow Guatemalan, Rigoberta Menchú. But after reading up on the organization and with my head now turned to this idea of synergy and the importance of pragmatic thought, this decision seems all the more appropriate.

A common criticism towards organizations such as the UN and faith in International Law is the difficulty in enforcing laws and regulations between nations. Diplomacy and advocacy are perceived as too soft, sanctions are not always effective, and war is always far from desirable. But then, especially in the context of Syria, how can human dignity and ultimately peace be protected?

OPCW works to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention though a very practical approach utilizing synergies between different entities. As a whole, the organization is very much a synergy between Politics and Science. The organization works with research facilities to discover the most effective ways of eliminating chemical weapons without harm to the environment or people. At another level, the organization also creates synergy between nations by adhering to conventions such as the CWC and trade and customs regulations such as the Harmonized System set by the World Customs Organization. There is also the important synergy between the OPCW and other organizations, especially the UN that helps the politics side of their organization run smoothly. OPCW also works with commercial firms, in a more traditional sense of synergy, to properly destroy toxins.

As big corporations have been utilizing synergy to increase profits, OPCW has also implemented this practical method in order to increase security and ultimately protect peace. Perhaps another way to describe peace is as synergy. When all in a society are treated with dignity and respect and their rights protected, there is a significant increase in their potential and their ability to contribute to the society. When peace is maintained in a society, there is also room for greater cooperation. Picturing these individuals as parts in a synergy, the outcome of the society could be potentially greater than the simple sum of the individuals. Organizations, such as OPCW, that work to protect the health and wellbeing of individuals play a significant role in increasing the synergy, or peace, in communities and in this way ensure the success of and dramatically increase the overall potential of those communities.

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