Fourth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Brussels, Belgium 1992

General report

Introduction

This general report contains all the aspects of the conference that are not specifically dealt with in Section 3 (Country Reports) and Section 4 (Workshops). The various aspects are treated here roughly in the chronological order of the conference program. 

Every participant and each national movement is urged to check carefully these Proceedings in order to act on certain points. You will not find all the decisions and things to do neatly together; in the various paragraphs you will rather find suggestions for action, for reflection, for lobbying, for writing letters, for sending documents, for reporting back to a coordinator, for sharing information with other national movements, for spreading information to your own members or the public at large. For some points of interest no responsible person is mentioned Hopefully, someone will see the importance of such an item and will find time to tackle it

Let us be active so that we see some progress and have a lot of experiences to discuss at the Vth International Conference in 1994.

Visit to NATO

Prior to the Conference itself a visit to the NATO Headquarters in Evere-Brussels had been arranged for some thirty persons. We heard two NATO officials give an introduction on current political issues and on defence policy. For peace activists it was interesting to listen to their reasoning. We were particularly pleased to hear that the NATO military had advised the politicians against a military intervention in former Yugoslavia, as it would offer no solution and only worsen the problem! In still another aspect NATO presented itself as a very peaceful organisation: although it did not claim to know all the answers, we were told it is very frequently consulted by Eastern European countries on the issue of reconversion of the arms industry to civilian production. It sounded as if NATO would be a likely candidate for a peace prize

Press conference

At the press conference scheduled for 7 pm on Thursday nobody showed up.

Belgian evening

Still at the fringe of the conference itself we listened to a forum discussion, chaired by Dirk Panhuis (VRAK). We heard testimonies about WTR from a Flemish teacher Bob De Baecke whose court case is still pending; from Jan Vanden Berghe, Roman Catholic priest, whose car was nearly sold in 1989 and who candidly expressed his doubts about priorities of actions in the present political climate in Belgium; from Ursula Windsor, a British Quaker and from Christa Voigt, a German Quaker pharmacist, who both have been in court.

The main sponsor of the peace tax bill, Representative Hugo van Dienderen (Agalev) presented the slightly revised version of the bill and Senator Nelly Maes (Volksunie: Flemish Nationalists) expressed her warm support for the bill.

Finally, Marian Franz, lobbyist at the USA Congress, told us how she approaches Congress people and how important the hearing on the peace tax bill (H.R. 1870) before the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures has been (May 21, 1992). She recalled the words of Repr. Andrew Jacob some years ago: History and morality are on your side.