The Prophet Isaiah by Rembrandt, 1639
Inscribed above the door of the United Nations building in New York are the immortal words in which the prophet Isaiah proclaims his vision of peace on earth:
“They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Indeed the vision of Isaiah, written in the eighth century BCE, bears some striking parallels with the concept of a United Nations Organisation. The UN was created as a response to the savage aggression which threatened human civilisation in the Second World War; Isaiah wrote as the Assyrians descended on the Middle East, leaving a trail of terror and devastation; and both Isaiah and the founders of the UN imagined a better world based on international co-operation and justice.