Tenth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Brussels, Belgium 2004

Workshop 9: Working for a New Model of Security

Led by Deanne Douglas (UK)

3.9

Report by Gea Meijers (Netherlands)

Introduction

Deanne Douglas introduced her workshop by defining the problem with working for a new model of Security: ‘there is information about new models in science and in the field, but how do we get this information across to the general public?, How do we get this knowledge to an understandable level of simplicity and clarity?’.

She then went on to explain that the UK government assumes a nationalistic military answer to security and that it takes this view for granted, not considering there are other ways too. Luckily all Western governments have some small conflict prevention programmes which are a sign for hope.

We should create security by using a toolbox in which the nationalistic military way is only the hammer. We need the other tools as well. Conflicts are complex and not all tools have the same effect in each conflict. Through the conflict in Zimbabwe she discussed 10 violent-free tools of conflict resolution. She also brought with her a paper with a brief of her introduction together with links to more material on the subject.

The 10 tools are:

  1. Civilian Protection, like the peace brigades international.
  2. Control of arms export and weapons control.
  3. Trained inspectors (they can observe in conflicts)
  4. Law enforcement. One can train better the national police and army in the country and train the judicial system, for instance to do something against bribery.
  5. Bringing Warlords and Militias under control. Talking with especially the groups that keep the conflict going, is important. Ask them why they do what they do.
  6. Back channel diplomacy. Also it is good to talk with all parties that have a problem with the conflict. In most countries where there is a conflict, civil society is weak; usually it is the government talking to opposition only.
  7. Mediation training.
  8. Reconciliation Committees. These were very successful in South Africa as most people know, but also in other countries they had effect.
  9. Support for civil society. Sometimes very small things like helping organisations to send out leaflets may have great effect. For instance the civil opposition for Milosovic couldn't oppose since they had no money for leaflets; if they could have done more, the conflict could have been not so escalated.
  10. A free press.

Discussion

After the introduction, it was time for discussion. One of the first points made, was the lack of political will to use these tools. For instance in the US, but also within the EU there is no money for EU-peace keeping activities. Deanne suggested that the peace movement should try what the green movement have done, making this new ways of security well known and locked into the hearts and minds of people. Through changing the public, we may be able to change the politics

One other point raised was the activities of the UN concerning peace. Some one told there is a global platform on conflict prevention and they have held its first regional conference in Dublin where 350 organisations together with some representatives of governments drafted a 15 page action plan. There are still 14 other regional conferences planned.  On a question if this may divert action of give it a boost, some one answered that it can work both ways. Of course it asks time from peace-activists, but you also create many new contacts especially the contacts with government may be of use. 

Then the discussion focussed for some time on the problems with finding civilians for peacekeeping missions. Anyone can do this, which is a great aspect of it. But in the Netherlands and Germany they have experienced problems with finding people who want to do this. One German person was of the opinion that Germans shouldn't do this, because of the specific history of the German state; the focus should be on teaching peace in Germany. Another German disagreed with this position: ‘we have to act on the conflicts in the world’.

At the end of the workshop someone raised the question of what already exists on human rights and peace education. According to one person there is a lot out there, but it doesn't question enough the military premise. Another person mentioned that in New Zealand they have the only minister of peace in the whole world.