2018 “World Beyond War” Toronto Conference Included Workshop on Departments and Infrastructures for Peace


Special to CPNN by Anne Creter

I am a long-time advocate within the U.S. “Peace Alliance” Department of Peacebuilding Campaign for the current bill in Congress to establish a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding (H.R.1111).  Thus I am thrilled to report my favorite topic of Departments and Infrastructures for Peace (I4P) was featured at this September’s international “World Beyond War” (WBW) conference in a workshop my Canadian Department of Peace counterpart, Dr. Saul Arbess and I co-presented there.  It was a logical collaboration, in that for the last decade Saul and I have worked together promoting governmental I4P within an international organization known as the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace or GAMIP (currently in transition).  

Frame from the conference video: Karen Johnson gives report from workshop on Departments of Peace

The ambitious conference intent, as stated by its planners, was to “explore how to re-design systems to abolish the institution of war by examining existing and potential legal models, modes of governance and frameworks that can be used to curb and abolish war, such as treaties like the Kellogg-Briand Pact, Peoples’ Tribunals, peace tax funds, departments of peace, civil disobedience, the use of universal jurisdiction and the International Criminal Court.”

Our workshop was timely because it meshed with above and also with my UN NGO work whose focus this year has been on “seeking global solutions to global problems”  — per the UN 2030 “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs).  The UN Development Program, which oversees both the SDG’s and I4P, has conducted studies showing evidence that a viable solution to the global problem of “violence” is establishing governmental departments and other I4P worldwide.  This relatively new peacebuilding concept of “governmental I4P” is already operational in countries where violence has been shown to decrease (Journal of Peacebuilding & Development Special I4P Issue, volume 7, Number 3, 2012 ISSN: 1542-3166). 

Thus if I4P are a viable global solution to the global problem of “violence,” then establishing them in governments should be encouraged to provide the (missing) connective tissue links necessary to build the culture of peace.  That this topic was deemed relevant to the WBW’s provocative conference theme of Designing a World Beyond War:  Legalizing Peace was promising.  For it offered a unique international forum for how governmental I4P may be a viable alternative to war providing a “legal” institutional framework for peace that could be the “blueprint” for redesigning a world beyond war.  

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Question related to this article:

How can we develop the institutional framework for a culture of peace?

Is a U.S. Department of Peace a realistic political goal?

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The conference was held September 21-22 to coincide with the International Day of Peace celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose focus this year was “The Right to Peace.”  It was held outside the U.S. in Toronto, Canada to demonstrate WBW’s belief that for the global peace movement to succeed in redesigning a world beyond war, it must broaden its scope to build one unified coalition in solidarity worldwide with other peace groups.   

Most attendees were Canadian yet other countries were represented, as far away as New Zealand — home of my UN NGO, Peace Through Unity Charitable Trust — which as a founding member of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace has long advocated for a New Zealand “Ministry for a Culture of Peace” and passage of a UN Resolution urging I4P in all member states (see PeaceNow.com).  To quote Gita Brooke, Peace Through Unity founder:  New instruments are in the planning for carrying out the guidelines contained in the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace:  ministries and departments of peace will serve as meeting places for closer, more comprehensive and effective cooperation between peoples and governments; peace academies will teach and help develop communication, peacebuilding and peacemaking skills of individuals and groups within society; and the general public will hold themselves, their governments, as well as the UN, accountable for implementing promises that have been made. 

The U.S. Constitution preamble beautifully articulates the primary purpose of government – which in a nutshell is to ensure humanity’s basic Human Rights (ie. the Right to Peace). Because we live in an ever-escalating global culture of violence, government needs vital help meeting this essential purpose. My advocacy for governmental 14P stems from my conviction that I4P can greatly assist government fulfilling its fundamental “Peace” mandate.  Yet how I4P relate to the compelling WBW idea of “legalizing peace” needs further exploration.  While we only had time to scratch the surface there, our group began a lively interactive dialogue on I4P basics, such as the lack of political will for peace and on how the mere mention of I4P in some countries puts I4P advocates at risk of harm.

We are grateful to UN Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury for his short video on the conference theme, with mention of how I4P promote the Culture of Peace; also to Congressional sponsor of H.R. 1111 Rep. Barbara Lee for her welcoming letter where she states: “Now is the time to put an end to needless wars and violence and to establish a Department of Peacebuilding in the U.S. and violence prevention infrastructures throughout the globe.”  Visit WBW website to see the Ambassador’s video and Congresswoman’s letter, plus our power point and other valuable conference details at https://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2018 … and while there, be sure to access your copy of their scholarly publication – A GLOBAL SECURITY SYSTEM:  An Alternative to War.

In conclusion, I learned of other possible frameworks that could redesign a world beyond war which I found hopeful at this time of unprecedented global political upheaval.  They included such compelling models as: Kellogg-Briand Pact (WBW Director David Swanson), Divestment from War Profiteers (Medea Benjamin), Peace Education  Approaches (Tony Jenkins), World Citizenship & Global Rule of Law (David Gallup) to mention a few.  Participating gave the U.S. “Peace Alliance” National Department of Peacebuilding Campaign the opportunity to enlarge an important “peace education” dialogue alongside our Canadian Department of Peace brothers and sisters.  Hopefully it will continue so “Departments and I4P” may appear inside next year’s 2019-2020 edition of A Global Security System!

To continue this conversation, please write with comments or questions to Anne at annecrets@aol.com .