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Peace Research: We are all interconnected
an article by Michael True

Worcester, MA

I have attended international peace research conferences since 1990, but this year dramatized in a special way how interdependent we all are, in spite of differences in culture, geography, and experience. This was the impression I bring home from the bi-annual conference of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) that opened July 1 in Suwon Korea with 300 peace researchers from around the world. The theme was "Globalization, Governance, and Social Justice: New Challenges for Peace Research."

An opening plenary session, "Nonviolence as a Way to Social Justice in The Globalized World," included presentations by Jeong-Soo Kim, Korean Women Making Peace; Chaiwat Satha-Anand, Thamassat University, Bangkok; Glenn Paige, Center for Global Nonviolence and the University of Hawaii, with six additional plenaries throughout the week, on overcoming racism, uncivil war against women, peace education, security and disarmament, and rights of indigenous peoples.

Katsuyo Kodama, IPRA's Secretary General, from Mie University, Japan, chaired two business meetings of the IPRA Council. A procedure for assuring geographical and gender balance of the Council was adopted, and Professor Kodama was re-elected for a two year term as head of the organization. The Asia Pacific affiliate, headed by Maria Sol Perpinan, the Philippines, will meet in Taipai, Taiwan,June 6-8, 2003, while IPRA-2004 will meet in Sopron, Hungary, just across the Austrian border from Vienna.

The twenty commissions of IPRA held special sessions throughout the week, including on gender and peace, political economy, internal conflicts, international human rights.

Although a typhoon threatening the Korean Peninsula led to the cancellation of tours to the DMZ, conference participants visited other historical sights, including the Citadel and Korean Folk Village in Suwon as well as Deoksugung Palace, National Museum,and Myengdong Cathedral in Seoul, a place of sanctuary during the worker/students uprisings in the 1970s.

Further information on the conference and IPRA membership is available at the IPRA website or by e-mail from


Question(s) related to this article:

Does research show that nonviolence works?,

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Latest reader comment:

Did the writings on nonviolence by Gene Sharp help inspire the movements of the Arab Spring in Egypt and elsewhere?

This is debatable.  The New York Times said "yes" and some Egyptians, for example, the blogger Karim Alrawi say "no".

However, it should be recognized that the ideas of nonviolent resistance have a way of transcending borders and centuries.  Nelson Mandela was influenced by Martin Luther King who was influenced in turn by Mahatma Gandhi who was influenced in turn by Henry David Thoreau.

[Note added later: The blog of Karim Alrawi is no longer available on the Internet, but see instead the blog of Hossam El-Hamalawy who says that the Palestinians "have been the major source of inspiration, not Gene Sharp, whose name I first heard in my life only in February after we toppled Mubarak already and whom the clueless NYT moronically gives credit for our uprising."

This report was posted on August 12, 2002.