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Triennial Gathering of International Peace Bureau
an article by International Peace Bureau (abridged)

The Triennial Gathering of International Peace Bureau took place 13-15 September in Stockholm with the theme "The World is Overarmed and Peace is Underfunded". Here are excerpts from the summary report. For details about the speakers, click here.

click on photo to enlarge

The conference was held just at the critical moment when the balance in the Syrian chemical weapons drama shifted from possible USled military strikes to a superpower deal to eliminate the Assad regime's arsenal. On the other hand, the continuation on a daily basis of brutal killings in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq was underlined by daily news reports of bombings, shootings and kidnappings. Each country was the subject of a session at the conference. The discussion highlighted the tendency of political leaders to choose direct intervention instead of conflict prevention, peacebuilding and civilian protection approaches. There was also a set of presentations on what alternative, non violent strategies at the grass roots level might look like.

These discussions were preceded by a wide ranging keynote speech from Joseph Gerson looking at the continuing imperial role of the USA in today's multipolar world. Background document

Facts and figures on global military spending were presented, and IPB speakers once again made the organisation's case for including military spending in the UN's Post 2015 Development Agenda. With military spending at levels higher than at any time in history ($1.7 trillion in 2012), "it is high time that this huge financial resource be considered within the framework of `innovative funding for development'". We also raised the issue of the `misuse of brainpower', ie the tendency for science/engineering/technology to be put at the service of the military system, rather than on human needs. The panel also featured a critique of the Swedish defence posture, and Diakonia's view of development from a human rights perspective. Background documents: Background document on military spending, Background document on Middle East

In the Conference final statement: Putting an End to Militarism, "There was a new hope expressed at the IPB Triennial Conference, welcoming the agreement between Russia and the USA on chemical weapons in Syria. Hopefully this will lead to negotiations to put an end to the terrible civil war. The forming of international coalitions for military intervention is now much more difficult as public opinion against war has become so strong. People are weary of war and the deceit and rhetoric that go with it. They are suspicious of double speak and are tired of `humanitarian' statements which end with actions that simply generate more human suffering...." FULL TEXT

Surrounded by the colourful panels of the IPB photoexhibition Making Peace, a packed audience heard presentations from 3 distinguished speakers: Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire (both Nobel Laureates) and Terumi Tanaka, representing the survivors of the 1945 nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition we heard from Anna Ek, Chairperson of IPB member organisation the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, SPAS, who celebrate their 130th anniversary this year. Former President MajBritt Theorin was the evening's moderator.

This year's Sean MacBride Peace Prize was awarded to Chelsea/Bradley Manning. Col. Ann Wright accepted the medal on Manning's behalf and promised to pass it on to her lawyer for onward delivery (see CPNN article of July 19). . . .


Question(s) related to this article:

How can we know if the culture of peace is advancing?,

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Latest reader comment:

One way we can NOT know if the culture of peace is advancing is from projects like the Global Peace Index which has recently been reviewed in CPNN.

The Global Peace Index measures the old dimensions of war and peace, not the new dimensions of culture or war / culture of peace.    Peace, in the old paradigm was the period between wars when countries were preparing themselves for the next war.    Culture of Peace, the new paradigm, is concerned with the deep roots of war, its cultural basis.

That can explain the paradox that it is the wealthy countries of the North that score highest on the index (Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Finland), countries of Europe, which was involved in both the World Wars and which continue to profit from the unequal terms of trade between North and South which is enforced by the culture of war.  

When I was at UNESCO, the African ambassadors had the following to say: "One should not look to the South for the causes of the culture of war; instead, pose three questions. From where do the weapons come? From where do the violent television programmes come? And where are the terms of trade decided that impoverish the people of the South which leads to violence? "

This report was posted on September 27, 2013.