In 2017, the world spent all time high $1.7 trillion on its uniformed fighters. That’s equivalent to about a thousand dollars per family on the planet. Yet all these weapons have not made the world less violent.
A new book by Vijay Mehta, How Not to Go to War: Establishing Departments for Peace and Peace Centres Worldwide, asks: “How can peace be institutionalised?”
The book argues that “For every department of defence, there needs to be a department of peace that allocates public resources to forestall violence and militarism, by measures of pre-emptive conflict resolution rather than waiting for it to occur and then deploying violence against it. Such departments of peace will be distinct from foreign and development ministries, compromised as they are by espionage, export-promotion and securitisation of aid. By opening peace / social centres / franchises, in each city, town and village, the Peace Department can contain violence and foster a culture of peace.”
The book argues that the establishment of Departments of Peace can lead to saving of trillions of dollars.
Listen to an interview about the book http://davidswanson.org/talk-nation-radio-vijay-mehta-on-how-not-to-go-to-war/. Order the book: https://www.amazon.ca/How-Not-War-Establishing-Departments-ebook/dp/B07R8J42WF.
Another new book Are We Done Fighting? Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division shares practical tips, stories, and research about peacebuilding at the grassroots and beyond. Primarily focused on evidence-based strategies for building healthier relationships in an increasingly polarized world, the last section of the book focuses more specifically on international peace issues. It discusses the need for new creative approaches to mediation, peace education, civilian protection in armed conflicts, and other war prevention measures. It mentions the potential of a Department of Peace to coordinate and pursue such activities with a heavy focus on acting early and in a coordinated way to prevent wars. Rather than focus on the problems, Are We Done Fighting? lifts up actions each of us can take in our day to day lives to help spread peace.
Watch the one minute video trailer below and find out more and order via the book’s website https://AreWeDoneFighting.com.
For the Master’s Program in Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Manitoba, Victor Kliewer wrote a thesis titled The Canadian Department of Peace: History and Potential.
This thesis examines the possibility of establishing a Department of Peace (DOP) as a Department of the Government of Canada. The topic has been introduced in Parliament twice—in 2009 as Bill C-447 and in 2011 as Bill C-373; neither Bill received any further action beyond the First Reading.
The introduction of the bills could only happen on the basis of significant support among Canadians. At present, in 2019, efforts to reintroduce the DOP into the Government, although somewhat muted, continue; and the concern for peace—including all of its diverse aspects, both within Canada and around the world—remains as urgent as ever.
The thesis, based on relevant literature and oral interviews, evaluates the establishment of a DOP in the context of the Canadian peace tradition as well as other global peace developments. It concludes that a DOP has great potential to move the peace agenda in Canada forward but that, in view of the priorities of the current government and the general mood in Canadian society, it is not realistic to expect a DOP to be implemented at present. The recent appointment of the Women, Peace and Security Ambassador in December 2018 represents a step in this direction, but a fully structured DOP would provide a more significant framework for the advancement of peace, defined in the preamble of Bill C-373 as “not simply the absence of active hostilities but rather a state of non-violence, harmony, and amity.”
The full thesis is available in PDF from the University of Manitoba library.
Today Jacqueline O’Neill has been appointed as Canada’s first Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security. A Government of Canada news release states:
Ms. O’Neill will help advance Canada’s feminist foreign policy by championing our women, peace, and security priority commitments at home and around the world. She will also work across all federal departments and with partners to advise on the implementation of Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
In addition to providing advice to ministers on this critical challenge, Ms. O’Neill will also recommend actions we can take to protect the rights of women facing insecurity and violence and promote their meaningful participation in our development, humanitarian, and peace and security efforts around the globe.
The Canadian Peace Initiative has been formally in existence since 2004. CPI campaigns for a Department of Peace that would have a public mandate to find nonviolent methods of resolving conflicts nationally and internationally. CPI’s proposed Bill to Establish a Department of Peace has been submitted by multi-party representatives in 2009 (Bill C-447) and 2011 (Bill C-373). The department would:
- develop early conflict detection and rapid response processes,
- establish a civilian peace service composed of peace professionals that can be deployed as an alternative to armed intervention (civilianpeaceservice.org),
- advise the government on domestic and international peace issues, and
- start building a domestic culture of peace that includes supporting peace education.
CPI has fully supported the establishment of an Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security with the following observations and recommendations:
- Although not a Department of Peace as CPI has envisioned, CPI supports the Ambassador as a step in that direction.
- CPI recommends that the scope of this Ambassador be expanded to include all priority peace issues that Canada faces, such as Indigenous issues, disarmament, and peace operations.
- CPI suggests that it would be most effective to locate this Ambassador’s position with a strong link to the Prime Minister’s Office and that she be provided with resources to enable a real advancement on her mandate.
- As the leading civil society organization in Canada advocating for a Department of Peace, CPI looks forward to engaging with all relevant stakeholders in the months ahead, as the details related to this new Ambassador evolve and become more concrete.