"Putting an end to militarism" – Statement from the Triennial Conference of the International Peace Bureau

September 13-15, 2013 Stockholm , Sweden

“The World is Over-armed and Peace is Under-funded” – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

There was a new hope expressed at the IPB Triennial Conference, welcoming the agreement between Russia and the USA on chemical weapons in Syria. Hopefully this will lead to negotiations to put an end to the terrible civil war.

The forming of international coalitions for military intervention is now much more difficult as public opinion against war has become so strong. People are weary of war and the deceit and rhetoric that go with it. They are suspicious of double speak and are tired of ‘humanitarian’ statements which end with actions that simply generate more human suffering.

We demand that our voices are heard and our desire for peace taken seriously!

Military intervention and the culture of war serve vested interests. They are extremely expensive, escalate violence, and can lead to chaos. They also reinforce the idea that war is a viable solution to human problems.

The money being fed into the military would be far better spent eliminating hunger and poverty, providing education and stimulating culture, reversing climate change and improving social justice. Just some 10% of the world’s annual military spending would be enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Disarmament and peace have to be an important part of the UN post-2015 development agenda.

There is now an urgent need to remove once and for all the dominance of military thinking and the way it is implicit in aggressive alliances, notably NATO. Instead we need to strengthen the process towards real democracy and enable the UN to focus on diplomacy, international law and intercultural cooperation to achieve environmental and human security.

Over the centuries many courageous men and women have risked imprisonment and even their lives by speaking out against militarism. Among them, conscientious objectors and whistle-blowers are democracy’s safeguard.1

In the twentieth century, millions died and suffered from violent conflicts. We should use the upcoming centenary of World War 1 to demonstrate the alternatives. Imagine what the world would look like today if we had used non-violent means to solve conflicts rather than war.

Now is the time to end the era of militarism!

1* At the Triennial, IPB’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize was awarded to US Army Private Manning.

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