Update on the International Peace Bureau

Science for Peace became a member of the International Peace Bureau in 1991 when IPB’s annual conference was held in Toronto. At its 1992 General Assembly, held 29-30 August in Helsinki, IPB elected as its president Maj-Britt Theorin, a parliamentarian who has been Sweden’s Ambassador for Disarmament to the United Nations. In Toronto recently for the ECO-ED Conference, she met on 17 October with a small group of SIP and Voice of Women members. We had a lively discussion on her pragmatic proposal, presented in a recent UN study and at the Earth Summit in June, for diversion of military resources and forces to environmental clean up, notably in a proposed UN Green Beret force. The validity of such pragmatism was challenged by Prof. Ursula Franklin on grounds that the hierarchical, authoritarian nature of the military makes the proposal unsound—we must get rid of the military altogether, she insists.

Amongst the newly elected IPB vice-presidents are Norwegian peace researcher Johan Galtung, who has spoken in Toronto several times; Palestinian Mubarak-Awad, who addressed the Toronto IPB conference, and Cora Weiss of Sane/Freeze, New York. In honour of the 100th anniversary, in 1993, of IPB — the oldest continuous peace organization in the world — eight people were appointed Centenary’ Consultants for a two-year period, including two SIP nominees, Prof. Jules Dufour of the Universitg du Quebec at Chicoutimi and SfP’s secretary Phyllis Creighton. (Steve Dankowich of ACT for Disarmament and Montrealer Ann Gertler are also consultants to IPB.) Canadian peace organizations listed as newly accepted into IPB include the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Markland Group, and Project Ploughshares.

At the Assembly IPB took up an Important Canadian issue, the Innus’ fight for their homeland and against militarism. IPB agreed to sponsor an international day of action, 3 April 1993, to support the Innu in their struggle to stop NATO low. level. flights over Nitassinan (Labrador-Quebec) for fighter-bomber training.

IPB Members are to organize actions at Canadian embassies, and put pressure on the Canadian government to cease these military exercises.

IPB also decided to promote an international day of action in support of East Timor and the goals of peace talks and a ban on arms sales to Indonesia. Actions were undertaken on 12 November, the anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre of up to 200 -unarmed Timorese. In Canada an ad with many sponsors was placed in the Ottawa Citizen and a Victoria paper, and a demonstration was organized in front of the Indonesian consulate in Toronto.

The assembly- issued two major statements as well. The one on Somalia noted that the mass starvation now killing tens of thousands people stems from the superpowers’ dumping of vast quantities of weapons in the area in the 1970s and 1980s during the Cold War, the resulting explosion of local conflicts and breakdown of society, and the international neglect of the past- several years. IPB called for the UN, as a priority, to intervene and secure an immediate stop to all fighting; feeding of all the people; and a start to planning and negotiations for a peaceful development of the area. It urged that Somalia should receive substantial development aid under a UN scheme to transfer resources currently used for military purposes.

In its statement on the former Yugoslavia, IPB recommended that the UN-initiated peace process involve anti-war group representatives as well as leaders of the warring factions; neighbouring states commit themselves not to intervene or to allow their territories to be used to facilitate aggression; radio frequencies in the area be under UN authority and provide factual information, not propaganda; and a UN peacekeeping presence be installed in areas where armed conflict has not yet broken out. IPB stressed that this conflict again highlights the importance of UN control and reduction of arms production and transfers, and that greater allocations to the UN and regional security bodies (e.g. Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) to develop mediation and other conflict prevention mechanisms could reduce the likelihood of future similar conflicts.

Other decisions taken include IPB support for:

  • actions with the goal of military-free regions and continents and of strengthening the UN, especially democratization of its structures
  • an international fasting campaign against nuclear weapons, 6-9 Aug. 1993
  • a proposed NCO Forum in Britain in 1993 on key issues ignored in Agenda 21 (e.g. military pollution; the arms trade; debt and the role of transnational corporations)
  • a day of action on 6 August (Hiroshima day) against military destruction of the environment.

As its main ongoing project for the next two to three years, IPB will focus on nuclear weapons proliferation. Key elements include: coordination of international peace movement activity; a joint platform for political work related to the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference and preparatory events; and continuing work on the World Court Project (which seeks to get nuclear weapons explicitly outlawed) by dissemination of materials and collection of citizens’ declarations of conscience against such weapons. Plans are being developed for how member organizations can best be involved in the project, IPB to provide networking through a proposed quarterly newsletter. Japanese participants emphasized that abolition of nuclear weapons is the goal, not just curbing proliferation.SfP gets an agenda for action out of its international link with IPB

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ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)