Inventing peace

Linked with Cora Weiss – USA.

Published on openDemocracy, by Cora Weiss, March 18, 2004.

Why war?

Since the very purpose of the United Nations is to prevent the scourge of war, and since in the eleven years between 1989 and 2000 alone there were 111 armed conflicts, can we say there has been a mammoth failure of the international community? Is it a dream to say that the time to end war has come?

“Nothing happens unless first a dream,” said our great poet, Carl Sandburg. But is it possible? After all, say most folks, history is replete with one war after another. Most national monuments are of men on horseback with rifles, or dedicated to the fallen heroes in wartime. Battlefield cemeteries are tourist attractions. War is inevitable. It may even come with our DNA, they say. But the UNESCO Seville statement on violence of 1989 says:

Read also Scilla Elworthy on practical ways to resolve conflict peacefully“We conclude that biology does not condemn humanity to war … Wars begin in the minds of men … the same species who invented war is capable of inventing peace.” People once thought slavery inevitable, and laws and taxes supported it. People once thought colonialism inevitable, and again, it was supported by laws and taxes. And so too, apartheid …

… A place at the table:

Of all the peace agreements reached since the end of the cold war, only the Irish Good Friday agreement, South Africa and Guatemala have had women at the table. In each case a substantial difference was made. The Irish women never let the negotiators forget their commitment to human rights. The South Africans have a constitution that insists that 30% of parliamentarians be women.

Public opposition to the illegal act of war against Iraq may provide us with the moment to move into gear to raise the issue of the legitimacy of war from the halls of the CSW at the UN to every village and town where the women will return. It is time to have this discussion replicated in schools, at parent and teacher meetings, in city halls, at town council meetings, in the parliaments of the world and in the Security Council.

Why war? (full text).

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