Submitted to the Workshop on Global Governance and a World Without War
Wilfrid Laurier University, July 18, 2010 by Shirley Farlinger
Abstract: To achieve a world without war we need a clear vision of what that world would be like. When that vision is offered to the public, as a viable alternative to the present situation, the goal will be irresistible. Progress is already being made and this success, although sporadic and partial, will suggest what still needs to be done. The present system of global governance is often counterproductive. When organizations — such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization — and unjust trade agreements or secret deals — such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership — are included in the definition of “global governance,” then the barriers to a world without war are evident. More hope is found in the many civil society groups and non-governmental organizations active today and in the rising tide of women in those groups and in women’s own unique roles leading us to a just and peaceful world. Another world is possible.
A World Without War
I begin with what a world without war would look like. I think that if you don’t know where you are going you are unlikely to get there.
Disputes within and between nations would be mediated – a sort of divorce court of countries. The beginning of such a process on the international stage is evident, not in the UN Security Council, but in the International Criminal Court where the sin of aggression has just been added to the list of indictable offences. The effectiveness of the ICC will have been demonstrated and most countries, including the largest, will have signed the ICC and be proud to have done so.
In the future students will study in our history books what we have done to each other and to the planet and be appalled. Giving apologies to former enemies and even restitution for the damage will be a normal course of action. War museums will show the range of horrific weapons used in the “bad old days” as well as examples of how peace became, not just possible, but celebrated.
With the end of military weapons, military research will be redundant. Research sites, such as Livermore Labs – the “whorehouse” of the weapons establishment eager to invent anything for money – will be closed down. Fifty percent of US federal taxes that used to go to the military will fund human needs.
The ridiculous cycle of inventing new smarter, faster, more accurate weapons, e.g., Cluster Bombs, and then working for years to get each one banned will be stopped.
Inspectors checking to see that disarmament agreements are working will be welcomed in all countries. Such countries will be given triple A ratings for compliance and special treatment at the United Nations. The Nobel Peace Prize will have been extended to deserving countries.
And what of the armed forces? They will have been reduced and deployed only for the increasing number of environmental and human disasters. They will train for search and rescue work and for handling the massive numbers of refugees. As they take on the massive humanitarian work needed the macho soldier image will change to one of helping people around the world.
The influencing of young people in schools to join the army will be regarded as jingoistic propaganda. “See the world, meet interesting people and kill them” will be part of our shameful past.
Canada’s workforce will change from the major supplier of military products to the United States to the source of employment in the new fields of green technology, planetary clean-up, international humanitarian aid and peace and reconciliation. Subsidies for the war machine will have ended. Adaptation and mitigation due to climate change will be a big employment factor. Planting trees and reclaiming deserts will be global enterprises.
The media will have turned from glorifying war to celebrating each step toward a world without war. The nightly news will tell of all the ways people are achieving peace in one country after another. The most macho male will now be the one who can grow the biggest pumpkin or lead cooperative games.
The seas will team with fish unimpeded by nuclear submarines or the pollution of oil spills.
The 28 countries that began the rush to get rid of their militaries will be hailed as pioneers.
A world without war will be one without nuclear weapons or nuclear energy. In fact, the whole nuclear chain from uranium mining to nuclear reactors to nuclear bombs will collapse with the saving of billions of dollars. Nuclear bombs, surely the most grievous example of science gone wrong, will be defused and buried along with all the nuclear waste and nuclear power plants in a massive burial. Just guarding and monitoring the sites will take all our ingenuity and patience for thousands of years. Our overall health, our reduced cancer and birth defect rates will be proof that the nuclear-free age is a better age. This will also have an effect on mental health. How much anxiety today is related to the fear of another Chernobyl? Another Hiroshima? Both planned and accidental nuclear explosions haunt our minds. The damaged DNA we implant in all future generation will be stopped.
Yet, even worse, according to Noam Chomsky, is the militarization of space outlined in Rosalie Bertell’s book “Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War.” It was Canada’s astronomer, Helen Hogg, who declared “The stars belong to everyone.”
To encourage peace our education system will have changed from one supporting the military corps training of youth to one teaching our children how to negotiate differences and live peaceably.
Corporate lobbyists have largely replaced democratic governance. It can only be described as bribery as our elected politicians are influenced to subsidize war production and pass corporate-friendly legislation.
Companies advertise only the nice products, not the war side of business. General Electric is not just about kitchen stoves. In a world without war the current role of corporations will not be tolerated. The work of the International Monetary Fund, the Word Bank, the World Trade Organization and various free trade agreements, which encourage subsidies for the military sector, will not be allowed to continue. “The monetary policy of the financial establishment and of governments is weakening civil society, entrenching income inequality and poverty and compounding environmental degradation.” (Bill Krehm, Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform). Monetary policy will get a complete rethinking. We will have heeded David Suzuki’s warning “If we continue to think the economy is every bit as important as the environment we are doomed”. We could add if we continue to exempt the military from our CO2 reduction schemes, we are doomed.
The links among poverty, corruption, crime, terrorism and war will be revealed.
War is not a legitimate activity. We already know that from the United Nations Charter, the decision of the International Court of Justice and the setting up of the International Criminal Court. Civil Society is on the move.
The United Nations now has a Peacebuilding Commission and a special women’s representative, Margot Wallstrom, appointed this year by Secretary General Ban Ki moon to deal with women’s issues. Of all women’s concerns, peace is fundamental.
It was 10 years ago in October that the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1325 mandating a role for women in all peace efforts. This has now been transformed into the Global Open Days for Women and Peace organized by several UN agencies and departments to hear directly from women in countries affected by past or ongoing conflict and to substantively incorporate women’s rights and concerns in their mission planning. Meetings are to be held regularly throughout the year and the issues raised reflected in mission planning and policy at the UN. It was former Secretary General Kofi Annan who said the input of civil society is crucial to UN decisions and Ban Ki moon seems to agree.
The Canadian federal government has begun meetings to discuss the role of government in implementing Resolutions 1325. Building a Legacy of Justice is the title of Canada’s Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. One meeting included KAIROS, CIDA, World Vision, Plan Canada, an official from DFAIT and myself. However the Action Plan has nothing in it to examine Canada’s role in preparing for and waging war. Nothing on a full parliamentary debate before going to war, nothing on our war industries, nothing on the need for DFAIT to rule over DOD.
There has been a marked increase in gatherings to counter the official meetings that so often leave out the victims of global governance. As James Travers writes in the Star, June 28, “These meetings (G8 and G20) are not a credible 21st century form of global governance.” In contrast the World Social Summits, the Via Campesina and landless peasant meetings exemplify the coordinated response of ordinary people in one country after another. The most recent was the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia in April 2010. About 30,000 people gathered to “propose, require and demand” such initiatives as the passage of a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, a Climate Justice Court, an Adaptation Fund to compensate countries for destruction caused by climate change, and a worldwide referendum on carbon emission reduction targets. One group at the conference was the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition.
Mayors for Peace now includes 4037 cities in 100 countries
Long-suffering women around the world are mobilizing for peace. Ms. Binalakshimi Nepram, winner of this year’s Sean McBride Prize, founded the Manipur Women Gun Survivors and is Secretary General of the Control Arms Foundation in India. Add her name to the following list of women of global importance: Vandana Shiva, Wangari Maathai, Helen Caldicott, Maude Barlow, Rosalie Bertell, Wendy Cukier, Jody Williams, Cora Weiss, Mary Robinson and “Silent Spring” author, Rachel Carson. We ignore their ideas, their warnings and their participation at our peril. What has silenced them and half of humanity all these years?
We can either continue to wage wars, ignoring the voices of peace-loving women and men or we can save the planet, we cannot do both.
Mary Robinson former President of Ireland, has been named co-chair of a UN group of independent experts to access the impact of Res. 1325 on women in the context of armed conflict over the past decade.
Mayors for peace support the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Carson, Rachel. “Silent Spring.”
Shiva, Vandana “Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development.”
Caldicott, Helen. “If You Love This Planet”, “Nuclear Power is not the Answer.”
Bertell, Rosalie. “No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth” and “Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War.”
Kristof, Nicholas D. and WuDunn, Sheryl. “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”
See also “One Thousand Peace Women Across the Globe” One thousand women have been named by women for the Nobel Peace Prize. See www.1000peacewomen.org.