by Metta Spencer
The International Peace Bureau (IPB) sends out a newsletter every month, recounting its member organizations’ activities and especially significant developments in the world that reflect the prospects for peace. You can read them at http://www.ipb.org. Here are some of the events that have been mentioned during the last few months:
- Several of the items dealt with the arms trade. For example, in March it was noted that Myanmar’s new budge allocates nearly 24 percent to defence, but only 1.3 percent to health. At about the same time, China announced that it was raising its defence budget in 2011. It was noted elsewhere that that arms sales, especially by Russia and China, are continuing to penetrate Latin America. On the other hand, these are not the most militarized regions in the world. Instead, the Bonn International Center for Conversion, which publishes a Global Militarization Index, declared the Middle East to hold that deplorable record, while India is the world’s largest importer of arms according to SIPRI, and Sweden tops the lost of arms exports per capita in 2010 — even higher than Israel and Russia.
- Although the Nobel Peace Committee maintains strict secrecy about its nominees, the Norwegian lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl stated that four Americans (Richard Falk, David Krieger, Betty Reardon, and Gene Sharp) and one Canadian (Douglas Roche) are among the ten he considers eligible to be shortlisted. He also made a list of persons he considers ineligible—though his criteria are apparently not the same as those of the committee that awards the prize. IPB itself nominated Douglas Roche, so we are certain that he is on the short list.
- April 12 was the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. IPB co-organized the world-wide event along with the Washington, DC-based Institute for Policy Studies. Here are some of the actions: The Foundation for Peace in Barcelona produced a powerful video on military spending versus the Millennium Development Goals. Activists in Medellin, Colomia leafleted subway stations, while in Athens, protesters invited passers-by to indicate where they would spend government money. The Japanese NGO Peace Boat docked in the Philippines, where atomic bomb survivors held events with local groups on the costs of war. In London, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade did a die-in at the steps of the Treasury building. In Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, activists did a walk for peace through a community devastated by cuts in social spending. In Corvallis, Oregon, Veterans for Peace set up in front of the library and asked people to indicate their own budget priorities. The indie pop group Peachcake composed a song for the day. The Toronto event was a Science for Peace-sponsored forum in which Professor Sergei Plekhanov of York University, Bill Robinson, and John Siebert discussed the trends and Canada’s own military spending habits. Reports of these and many other events are available on the IPB website, http://demilitarize.org/event-reports.
- The International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms met with the Simons Foundation in Vancouver in March and produced the Vancouver Declaration, which affirms that nuclear weapons are incompatible with international humanitarian law. They cannot comply with fundamental rules forbidding the infliction of indiscriminate and disproportionate harm.
- A large majority of the 28 NATO nations supports the withdrawal of American tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, or will not block a consensus decision on this issue. Only three NATO countries (France, Hungary and Lithuania) say they oppose withdrawal.
- The IPB network held a meeting in Dublin in April, calling for international days of action against the wars in Afghanistan and in Libya. It was decided that more attention needs to be directed to the role of NATO in the global South and in the Arctic.
- A new organization, the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN) was launched in May. It comprises 30 former senior political, diplomatic, and military leaders from 13 countries in the region. See its website, http://www.a-pln.org
- IPB will collaborate in a new online human rights training course for members and volunteers from European youth organizations. See http://humanrightsforyouth.org.
- In May over 2500 peacemakers, educators, and community organizers met in Newark New Jersey for a three-day summit on peace education. Three Nobel peace laureates were on the program: the Dalai Lama, Shirin Ebadi, and Jody Williams. Alyn Ware’s report of the event is available at http://www.peace.net.nz and Metta Spencer’s report is at http://peacemagazine.org/index.php?id=2172. For additional information see http://www.newarkpeace.org.
- The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its yearbook, which showed the continuing cuts in US and Russian nuclear forces are offset by long-term force modernization programs.
- June 25 was the Global Day of Action for Nuclear Abolition, coordinated by ICAN. More than 140 actions were registered in 25 countries, such as flash mobs, protests at nuclear weapons bases, public forums, art activities, and street theatre.
- In June Nobel Peace Prize nominee Douglas Roche carried out a three-week global speaking tour, which convinced him that “the world is moving into a new stage in the long quest to eliminate nuclear weapons….In the discussions surrounding my lectures to university students, think tanks, and civil society groups, it became clear to me that the intellectual case for nuclear deterrence is crumbling.”
- David Vine’s new book, Island of Shame, reveals the way the United States conspired with Britain to expel Diego Garcia’s indigenous people and deport them to slums in Mauritius and the Seychelles, where most live in dire poverty to this day.
- The annual IPB conference will take place in Potsdam October 29-30, 2011. On the 29th there will be a special day with speeches and discussions especially honoring the centenary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Alfred Hermann Fried (1864-1921). The event will be held in German and English with interpretation. If interested in attending, contact Reiner Braun at Hr.Braun@gmx.net