Beyond Diplomacy for Peace—Urgency of Strengthening People’s Peace Movement

Hope Peace

In these high-risk times the urgency of diplomacy for peace has been increasing steadily, as emphasized by several eminent experts, including those reputed to be among the most experienced in the skills and the art of diplomacy for peace. Unfortunately the most important decision makers, the ones who can most quickly and effectively de-escalate the dangers of moving towards catastrophic situations, have not responded yet in ways that can strengthen hope for peace.

This is thus one of the more opportune moments for arguing the case for a much stronger, unbiased, broad-based peace movement with continuity, compared to what exists at present.

While several small groups comprising the peace movement have acted with great courage in difficult times at critical moments, their efforts have not been adequately broad-based and have lacked the much needed continuity. Hence while it was a commendable achievement in itself to bring so many people together on any single day to oppose the Iraq invasion, it was also sad that the peace movement could not go beyond this for more effective action.

In the case of the gradual unfolding of the Ukraine conflict and proxy war, while some people and groups tried their best to bring attention to the gathering enormous dangers, yet all their efforts could not lead to stopping the proxy war at an early stage before the done damage and dangling dangers could become as serious as these now are.

On the other hand the existence of a stronger peace movement with greater continuity could have mobilized so many people that the decision makers were simply forced to avoid the worst decisions on the Iraq invasion or the Ukraine proxy war.

How to make the peace movement capable of such game-changing roles?  This writer has been exploring the ways and means of strengthening the peace movement and feels that if a determined effort is made with careful planning, within about two years the peace movement can be a much stronger and effective force, while some manifestation of this growing effectiveness and strength can be visible much earlier too.

The way forward lies in establishing important vertical and horizontal linkages. Violence in daily life (in the form of domestic and gender violence, self-harm, street violence, bullying etc.) is one of the most important causes of human distress. Although many good efforts to reduce this are being made, these need to be be integrated with a much broader vision , holistic vision of peace in daily life and peace within the self. Then this local peace effort in turn needs to be integrated with national and global level peace efforts, emphasizing the essence of peace in all such efforts ranging from reducing self-harm and bullying on the one hand to reducing the arms race and wars/conflicts on the other hand. This will give the peace movement a very broad base and much more continuity because efforts to check violence in daily life necessarily must have much more continuity in able to be able to respond to the problems around them. As the peace movement at this level is able to provide relief to a very large number of people with its continuing efforts, people will be much more responsive if activists of the same movement in continuing contact with them also speak to them about the dangers of the arms race, wars and weapons of mass destruction. Hence over a period of time many more people are likely to join efforts for world peace, while at the same time with a holistic vision it is also possible to reduce the enormous distress being caused in the daily life by violence.

At the same time, the peace movement should be integrated with justice and equality movements, with movements for protection of environment and other forms of life, with various youth and women movements. This will strengthen all of these movements and increase the possibility of joint actions. After all wars and weapons of mass destruction are the biggest danger to a safe life and a safe world for the upcoming generation , women and children are known to suffer the most during wars and conflicts (apart from violence in daily life), wars and the accompanying huge military budgets are ( together with inequalities) one of the most important causes of people being deprived of basic needs, wars and deadly weapons are one of the worst polluters and inflict (unheard) perhaps even more death and destruction on other forms of life than on human beings. Efforts to protect environment and other constructive efforts are most likely to succeed in conditions of peace and stability.

Hence most other social and environmental movements easily have a common ground with the peace movement, and vice-versa.

There should be much more effort to change prevailing values in communities and schools/colleges in favor of a holistic vision of peace with justice.

There should be more support for media efforts which provide an unbiased view of world affairs from the perspective of peace.

These, as well as wider peace efforts, should be entirely free from the influence of any of the big powers, whether the USA, or China or Russia, or from any other conflict of interest which stands in the way of unbiased and independent approach to all peace-based issues.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders and Man over Machine—A Path to Peace.


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