Banishing the Spectre of War
How early warning and early action can prevent the escalation of disputes into armed violence.
February 1, 1999
With Responses From
Feb 1, 1999
34 Min read time
How early warning and early action can prevent the escalation of disputes into armed violence.
Global Action to Prevent War is a comprehensive project for moving toward a world in which armed conflict is rare. The program envisions four phases of change, each lasting 5-10 years, to fully implement a wide array of measures to prevent international and internal war, genocide, and other forms of deadly conflict.
The UN and its member states are failing to prevent new outbreaks of armed conflict, and the entire world is paying huge costs for this failure.
Global Action to Prevent War addresses the global problem of organized violence. The world also faces fundamental crises of poverty, human rights violations, environmental destruction, and discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, and religion. To meet these challenges, many efforts must be pursued. No single campaign can deal effectively with all of them, but efforts to address such global problems can and should complement and support one other.
The Global Action program focuses on violent expressions of conflict, which obstruct efforts to get at the roots of conflict. Specifically, the program increases early warning and early action to prevent the escalation of disputes into armed violence; it minimizes the mistrust fueled by arms races and offensive military strategies; it guards against genocide; and it builds commitment to the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. When implemented, this program is likely to make war rare. At the same time, by delegitimizing militarism, increasing respect for human dignity, and saving billions of dollars, Global Action will help end structural violence. It will strengthen efforts to meet basic human needs, build tolerance, and protect the environment; and it will foster the democratic institutions that must ultimately replace armed force in achieving justice and fulfilling human needs.
Substantial efforts are now underway to reduce and eventually abolish nuclear weapons, but there are no comparable efforts to reduce conventional armed conflict and conventional arms. A comprehensive program to prevent organized armed violence is an urgently needed counterpart to efforts to ban nuclear arms. The program proposed here-Global Action to Prevent War-is such a counterpart. Its comprehensive framework unifies many diverse efforts to minimize the scale and frequency of war, and the costs of preparations for war.
The Global Action program is offered as a coalition-building platform to citizens and governments everywhere. Some components of the program, such as conventional arms cuts or multilateral action against aggression and genocide, concern mainly the most heavily armed countries. Other components, such as those dealing with nonviolent conflict resolution and peace education, can be implemented by individuals and state and local communities, as well as by national governments in all parts of the world.
The Global Action program is a work in progress. The current phase is one of disseminating and strengthening basic concepts. Concerned individuals throughout the world are invited to make suggestions and report activities. News will be reported on a Web site and in occasional newsletters. Every six months or so, a coordinating group will publish updated versions of the program materials. These drafts will be distributed globally to organizations concerned with peace, development, humanitarian aid, and the environment, and to all governments. The goal of this process is to support and supplement the many efforts for peace already under way by uniting them under a common umbrella. The sense of common action, in turn, will reinforce the separate projects and facilitate coordinated efforts.
The ambitious goals of the Global Action program cannot be achieved quickly. Building support for the program will take several years, and launching Phase I will take some years more. But sustained, coordinated efforts can stop the killing, and the Global Action program has the potential to mobilize and focus such efforts.
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Global Action to Prevent War aims to make deadly conflict rare by strengthening commitment to the rule of law in international and domestic affairs, enhancing international institutions for conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement, and, ultimately, replacing national capabilities for unilateral military intervention abroad with multilateral defense against genocide and aggression.
By delegitimizing militarism, increasing respect for human dignity, and saving billions of dollars, Global Action will help end structural violence.
The Global Action program proposes a phased process of gradual change, set in a treaty framework. Three initial phases, each lasting 5-10 years, lay the foundation for a final phase which establishes a permanent international security system. The goals of the successive phases of the program are as follows:
Phase I. Reduce the incidence of civil and ethnic wars by radically strengthening UN and regional institutions for conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement; and begin to reduce the longer-term risks of major international war by initiating talks on cuts in military spending and arms holdings, production, and trade, by providing full transparency (open information) on these elements of armed forces, and by making a commitment to freeze or reduce them until joint cuts are agreed (or for at least ten years).
Phase II. With stronger peacekeeping institutions in place, reduce the risk of major international war by making substantial worldwide cuts in armed forces and military spending (up to one-third of the largest forces), combined with parallel cuts in arms production and trade, and by referring disputes to the International Court of Justice. At the same time, continue to reduce the frequency and scale of internal wars by further strengthening UN and regional capabilities for conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement and by using the new International Criminal Court; and establish a tax on international financial transactions to support these activities.
Phase III. Building on the improved means of preventing armed conflict developed in Phases I and II, deepen confidence in the international community's ability to prevent international and internal wars by securing a watershed commitment on the part of participating nations (including the major powers) not to deploy their armed forces beyond national borders except in multilateral actions under UN or regional auspices. This will test international institutions while participants still have national means of unilateral military action as a fall-back. At the same time, conduct negotiations on arms cuts and other steps to be taken in Phase IV, when there is full confidence in international peacekeeping institutions.
Phase IV. Complete the process of making international and internal wars rare, brief, and small in scale by permanently transferring to the UN and regional security organizations the authority and capability for armed intervention to prevent or end war by expanding all-volunteer armed forces at the disposal of the UN and its regional counterparts while making another round of deep cuts (up to one-third, compared with today's levels) in national armed forces. The remaining national armed forces, which will be at most one-third the size of today's largest forces, will be limited to national defense of national territory, and will be restructured, if necessary, to focus exclusively on this role.
This program does not directly address the needs and conflicts that may motivate organized violence. It uses the resources of the international community to prevent the violent expression of conflict-which obstructs efforts to get at the roots of conflict. Specifically, the program increases early warning and early action to prevent the escalation of disputes into armed violence, minimizes military sources of mistrust that exacerbate fear and hostility between nations, guards against genocide, addresses terrorism, and builds commitment to the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
When implemented, this program of carefully coordinated steps is likely to make war rare. At the same time, by releasing funds, energy, and attention from military matters, it will strengthen efforts to rectify injustice, meet basic human needs, and build tolerance; and it will foster the democratic institutions that must ultimately replace armed force in achieving justice and fulfilling human needs.
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The Need and Opportunity for Change
The UN and its member states are failing to prevent new outbreaks of armed conflict, and the entire world is paying huge costs for this failure. The statistics are dismaying. According to some estimates, up to 35 million people-90 percent civilians-have been killed in 170 wars since the end of World War II. Thirty wars are now taking place, most inside national boundaries. In addition to the tragic loss of life and limb, these conflicts breed international terrorism, and they have huge economic costs. War's damage to productive economic activity is immense: it lasts for decades, sometimes generations, multiplying the human costs of conflict. In Lebanon, for example, 20 years after civil war broke out, the GDP was still only half of its previous level. Moreover, the large standing forces maintained to deter or intervene in wars cost hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
Today we have a rare opportunity to mobilize government and public support for a comprehensive approach to war prevention.
Despite their enormous resources and vast spending on armaments, governments have been unable to prevent frequent outbreaks of deadly conflict; instead, they react to them. Responding to dislocation, destruction, and loss of production and trade, the industrial countries and voluntary organizations spend billions of dollars on economic rehabilitation of war-ravaged areas, humanitarian aid, refugee relief, peacekeeping forces, and in some cases military intervention. Instead of repeatedly financing these costly forms of remediation, which are nearly always too little and too late, governments and voluntary organizations should be investing in the prevention of war.
Today we have a rare opportunity to mobilize government and public support for a comprehensive approach to war prevention. Effective working relationships among the world's top military powers (the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, and China) have created an unprecedented opportunity for cooperation to strengthen UN and regional conflict-resolution and peacekeeping and to reduce the global deployment, production, and trade of weapons.
This may be a waning opportunity. Unless preventive action is taken over the next 10-20 years, we may see renewed armed confrontation between the most heavily armed nations (the United States, Russia, and China). Moreover, other nations are poised to acquire new armaments that neighboring countries may find threatening. Today, when there is no near-term risk of major war, is the time to prevent the rise of new military threats.
In addition, innovative concepts for war prevention, forged during major conflicts ranging from World War I through the Cold War, offer new, powerful tools to help prevent war. These include confidence-building measures, transparency and information exchange, mutual constraints on force deployments and activities, negotiated reductions in standing forces, and restrictions on arms production and trade. Equally important are constructive new measures for peacekeeping: pre-conflict early warning and action, including diplomatic intervention, mediation, judicial processes, and preventive deployment of armed force; and post-conflict armed and unarmed peacekeeping, peace-building, and occasionally peace enforcement. Another innovation is the trend toward linking international loans to limits on military spending.
Thus far, these useful approaches to preventing war have been applied separately and incompletely; none has been fully successful, and none is likely to be so if they remain separate projects, unconnected by a larger framework. In the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union proposed plans for general and complete disarmament combined with improved UN peacekeeping; but these plans were shelved in favor of separate programs for partial arms limits and reductions. For nuclear arms, this approach has worked, even if slowly, because the many issues into which nuclear arms control has been divided-testing, bilateral reductions, nonproliferation, ending production of fissile material, and disposing of fissile material-are all supported by a strong public rejection of nuclear weapons. For conventional forces, in contrast, the disaggregation of disarmament into separate projects has fragmented public and government interest, dividing support among many worthwhile measures, such as limits on arms transfers or cuts in military spending. Peacekeeping has been completely separated from efforts to reduce conflict through arms control; and the only areas of some success-the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, the ban on antipersonnel land mines, and new efforts to regulate small arms-have been exceptional in generating broad popular support.
Now, instead of striving for peace in fragments, it is time to bring together these diverse approaches-conventional force reductions, limits on arms production and trade, cuts in military spending, measures to stop proliferation and build confidence, training for peaceful conflict resolution, and means for peace-building, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement-in a unified program to prevent war, and to incorporate this program in a treaty structure that assures its widespread, enduring implementation.
A comprehensive approach is needed to be effective and to mobilize sustained public pressure for new policies. Such an approach will strengthen existing peacemaking and arms control programs by building a broader coalition of interested publics and government officials to support them. Equally important, a comprehensive effort to prevent war and reduce conventional forces will strengthen efforts to eliminate nuclear arms by creating a degree of international stability conducive to abolition. In fact, one major goal of this program is to support efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, and we believe the success of this program is essential to that goal. But nuclear and conventional reductions need not be tightly linked: each can proceed at its own pace.
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A Phased Program of Change
To succeed in mobilizing broad support, a program of action to prevent deadly conflict should meet several criteria: it should be careful not to inadvertently increase some risks of war while reducing others; it should engage and strengthen commitment to nonviolent conflict resolution; it should offer substantial economic benefits; and it should include means of overcoming domestic resistance to change rooted in inertia, ignorance, and vested interests.
The phased program which follows seeks to meet these criteria. Militarily, it proposes a series of gradual changes, carefully designed not to create new situations of uncertainty in which the risk of war might rise. Morally, it underscores commitment to the rule of law and peaceful dispute resolution in international as well as domestic affairs in two ways: by limiting the accepted uses of armed force to deterring and defending against aggression, genocide, and other forms of mass violence, and by replacing the use of national armed forces in what may be arbitrary, self-interested ways with UN and regional forces for peace-enforcement in a non-partisan fashion.
A gradual process of change will enable a smooth transition to non-military employment and production.
Economically, this program should bring major savings to both the potential victims of armed conflict and the potential donors of emergency relief and reconstruction aid. In addition, by cutting the world's largest conventional armed forces and major weapon systems-which consume 95 percent of world military spending-the program should release enormous resources for non-military uses. In the case of the United States, which accounts for one-third of world military spending, initial cuts in conventional forces and weaponry could save over $75 billion per year (out of the current $250 billion annual military budget), and longer-term reductions could save more than $150 billion per year. Other countries should save comparable proportions of their current military budgets. After an initial period of transition and conversion, these savings could be directed to a combination of domestic tax cuts and health and education programs and international debt relief and development aid.
With respect to potential internal obstacles to change-employment in defense-dependent communities, profits in arms industries, the careers of senior military officers, and so on-a gradual process of change will enable a smooth transition to non-military employment and production. It will mobilize local as well as national support by ending local “boom-and-bust” cycles of funding for arms production, strengthening economic growth, and releasing a large fraction of government spending for other needs.
Many of the procedures and institutions proposed for Phase I already exist in partial or rudimentary form. Thus, Global Action to Prevent War will not be starting from a zero, but building on a number of positive recent developments.
Phase I: First Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC I, 5-10 year duration
Phase I has two main goals: first, to reduce the frequency of genocide, ethnic conflict, civil wars, and border wars by strengthening the international institutions for preventing and ending organized armed violence; and, second, to begin to address the longer-term risks of major international war by starting negotiations on global cuts in conventional arms holdings, production, and trade, and by instituting a freeze on and greater transparency on these elements of military power. There are several reasons for the initial focus on internal wars: they are the main source of bloodshed today; measures to prevent such wars, though well known, are severely underdeveloped; and strengthening these measures will help develop confidence in the ability of the international community to prevent all types of armed violence.
Phase I provides for an initial Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict (TRAC I), in which participating nations promise to work to reduce organized armed conflict by significantly enhancing means of conflict prevention and resolution and by limiting the size and uses of national armed forces.
Many steps to strengthen global and regional conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement capabilities, most under way in rudimentary form, are urgently needed to prevent and end civil wars, genocide, and other large-scale internal violence (see sidebar). Progress on these measures will let the Security Council, the Secretary-General, and the regional security organizations play a pro-active role in preventing armed conflict. The UN and its regional counterparts will be expected to act quickly to advise and warn governments encountering particularly difficult political and economic problems, and to assure that the UN Human Rights Commission and regional commissions play an active role in easing ethnic and minority frictions.
As the UN's role in preventing war grows, it will be necessary to reform the Security Council, making it more representative of the international community by expanding its membership, and more likely to undertake decisive, impartial action by restricting the use of the veto. For fuller accountability, the President of the General Assembly will have a seat on the Security Council, allowing him to report Assembly views to the Council and vice versa.
In addition to these steps aimed at preventing armed conflict within nations, TRAC I participants will take four steps to begin to reduce the longer-term risks of major war between nations:
- Begin talks on global reductions in armaments, and freeze or reduce key elements of military power while the talks are under way (or for at least 10 years);
- Support the talks by providing full transparency (open, publicly available information) regarding their own current and planned future armed forces, military personnel and spending, and arms production and trade;
- Apply further confidence-building measures, including constraints on force activities, in all bilateral relationships that have the potential to lead to war; and
- Establish a coordinating committee to oversee treaty implementation and verification, patterned on the verification arrangements for the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE).
Phase II: Second Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC II, 5-10 year duration
While continuing to strengthen the means available to the international community for preventing and ending genocide and smaller wars, Phase II will focus on steps to reduce the risks of major regional or global war. A second Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC II, will make substantial global and regional cuts in key elements of military power (force components, inventories of major weapon systems, military personnel, and spending), and place limits on arms production and trade.
Aiming ultimately at low levels of national armaments in all parts of the world, TRAC II will make proportionately larger cuts in countries with larger armed forces. For example, countries with aggregate inventories of major weapons 1numbering over 10,000 (the U.S.A, Russia, China) might reduce their forces by one-third, while those with inventories totaling 1,000-10,000 would cut by one-quarter, and those with inventories under 1,000 by 15 percent. 2
These global cuts will be supplemented by additional confidence-building arms limits and reductions in areas plagued by long-standing regional conflicts. Obligatory cuts in arms production and trade will accompany the global and regional cuts in forces. Since arms acquisition during reductions will be minimal, there will be more than proportionate cuts in production and trade and in arms industries. Reduced armaments will be destroyed unless they can be used to replace permitted but unserviceable weapons, thereby avoiding the production of replacement systems.
The entire program up to this point-including the cuts in arms holdings, production, and trade-will support a shift, which takes placed mainly in Phases III and IV, from national to multilateral means of military intervention to preserve or restore peace. Just as in Phase I, efforts will continue during Phase II to strengthen institutions for conflict prevention and resolution, and to prevent the outbreak of civil wars, violent ethnic conflicts, and genocide. In Phase II, participants will commit themselves to implement their obligations under Articles 43 and 45 of the UN Charter to make available to the Security Council pre-designated trained and equipped ground, air, and naval personnel, ships, and planes. At the same time, an all-volunteer force will be established, and the standing peacekeeping forces at the disposal of the UN and regional security organizations will undertake a gradual transition from national contingents earmarked for multilateral use to all-volunteer personnel. Little by little, reliance on national military contingents will be phased out except for large operations. Participants will also implement their obligation under Article 47 to establish a functioning Military Staff Committee to provide strategic direction of these forces on orders from the Security Council, and will establish regional counterparts to the Military Staff Committee.
These growing international means of conflict prevention will begin to be funded in TRAC II by a tax of one one-hundredth of one percent of all international financial transactions over $10,000.
Phase III: Third Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC III, 10-year duration
In a third Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict (TRAC III), participating countries, including the major powers, will test the effectiveness of the expanded international security system by making a commitment not to deploy their armed forces beyond national borders except as part of a multilateral deployment under UN or regional auspices. By the beginning of Phase III the UN and its regional security counterparts, which will have expanded their peacekeeping and peace-enforcement capabilities throughout Phases I and II, should be willing and able to take responsibility for these tasks. In other words, they should be prepared to take steps, authorized by the Security Council (or a regional counterpart), to launch rapid multilateral non-military or, as a last resort, military action aimed at preventing or ending the outbreak of war, genocide, and other forms of deadly conflict. When considering armed intervention in internal conflicts, the Security Council will decide on a case-by-case basis whether intervention is justified, using criteria such as the threat or conduct of genocide, threats to international security, or the failure of governments to meet the requirements for stewardship of their citizens' security and welfare.
At any time during Phase III, if participating nations conclude that their security is endangered by a failure of the international security system, they will have the right to withdraw from TRAC III; and since TRAC II cuts will reduce national forces by no more than a third, capabilities for unilateral military action will still exist.
As national armed forces shrink, the force needed to deter cross-border aggression will be both smaller and more likely to succeed.
Withdrawal from TRAC III will not vitiate the commitments made under TRACs I and II, but a successful TRAC III trial-a decade with no withdrawal and no unilateral military action by nations with large armed forces-will be a prerequisite for proceeding with TRAC IV. During the TRAC III trial, talks will take place on another round of cuts in conventional forces and military spending to be carried out in Phase IV, when there is full confidence in the effectiveness of the international security system.
By the time the TRAC III is agreed, nuclear disarmament should have reached a point at which the small remaining stocks of warheads and delivery systems have been immobilized by being placed in internationally-monitored storage-that is, the last step before the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. In this case, the TRAC III trial transfer of responsibility for military intervention from national to international hands, preceding the permanent transfer, would parallel the trial immobilization of nuclear weapons preceding their complete abolition.
Phase IV: Fourth Treaty to Reduce Armed Conflict, TRAC IV, indefinite duration
Following the trial run in TRAC III, the TRAC IV agreement, a treaty of indefinite duration, will complete the transfer of the responsibility and capability for peacekeeping and peace enforcement (but not for defense of national territory) from individual nations to the international security system operated by the UN and regional security organizations. This transfer will permit and require further cuts in national forces like those in TRAC II (one-third, one-quarter, and 15 percent, respectively, for countries with very large, large, and small forces). It will also require a further increase in the scale of the peace-keeping and peace-enforcement forces maintained by the UN and regional security organizations. Production of major weapons will be restricted to systems needed by individual nations for defensive security (defense of national territory) and those needed by the UN and regional organizations for peacekeeping and peace-enforcement. The latter will conclude their transformation to all-volunteer forces. This means that force-projection capabilities-air, naval, and logistical forces that permit military attacks on the territory of nations far from national borders-will be removed from national arsenals, in whole or in part.
Ultimate Goals-Phase V
As confidence in the international security system grows and military threats diminish, further changes will be desirable and should be possible.
The initial long-term goal will be for all nations to convert fully to defensive security, by limiting national armed forces strictly and narrowly to territorial defense (air defense, coastal defense, and border defense), and making the UN and regional security organizations alone capable of large-scale military intervention beyond national borders. Efforts to achieve this goal are likely to be mutually reinforcing. As confidence in the international security system grows and national armed forces shrink, the multilateral forces needed to deter and defend against cross-border aggression and other forms of large-scale violence will be both smaller and more likely to succeed. At the same time, as expectations of peace grow, nations and national leaders will become more comfortable with the idea of limiting their armed forces to defense of national territory. In particular, the major military powers (especially the United States), which would be giving up their capabilities for large-scale military action beyond national borders, will have concluded that their security is better served by the new system, and will actively support it.
Eventually, the world's nations may reach a degree of commitment to peaceful conflict-resolution such that the UN and regional security organizations will have only police functions: verifying adherence to defensive security limits by individual nations, and preventing the use of violence for gain or for political intimidation by non-state actors such as terrorists and criminal syndicates. At this point we could reasonably say that war had been abolished.
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A Plan for Action
Building a Global Movement
Global Action to Prevent War sets out a vision of a comprehensive approach to war prevention, with a plan to reduce the frequency and devastation of war and the scale of preparations for war throughout the world. As stated above, the long-term goals of this approach are for nations to adopt policies of defensive security, limiting national armed forces to territorial defense; for the UN and regional counterparts to enforce the peace with small, standing all-volunteer forces; and for nations, groups, and individuals to accept the rule of law in resolving disputes.
Most experts agree that, once implemented, Global Action will achieve these goals, but that implementation could be slow and difficult, especially at the outset. That is why we are planning a long effort, which will have to be supported over the years by a broad coalition of supporters, until Global Action gains enough salience and visibility to elicit interest and cooperation from the governments of large countries, including the United States.
While the implementation of the entire Global Action program lies far in the future, the individual components of the first two phases of the program are politically modest and feasible. They involve strengthening conflict-prevention and conflict- resolution mechanisms that already exist, initiating new measures of similar scope, and taking modest steps to reduce the longer-term risks of major international war, including cuts in armed forces built up during the Cold War. Most of these measures can be put into effect separately.
We are now in the first stage of disseminating the Global Action concept and coalition-building. We ask interested individuals, groups and organizations to discuss the Global Action program in detail and distribute it to friends, relatives, colleagues, religious and political leaders, and others. Our first goal is to become widely known.
A reasonable short-term goal for this program to achieve in two to three years is to establish an international coalition of seriously interested groups and individuals sufficiently committed and influential to make Global Action known worldwide as a serious long-term enterprise with increasing visibility and momentum, a project whose name and general character people and governments will widely recognize. The international coalition we are working on now is the first step to that objective.
A desirable five-year goal would be to get name recognition and understanding of our aims roughly equivalent to the campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons. When we are able to convince a number of committed people throughout the world that Global Action entails a practical and effective program to make armed conflict rare, we will have succeeded in tapping the universal desire for peace and the end of war, and Global Action will rapidly gain in influence.
What is needed to launch the Global Action program is a massive global grassroots movement that puts pressure on political leaders.
Among governments, our short-term goals include the circulation of Global Action to Prevent War into higher ranks of government with favorable endorsement by working level officials; introduction of the Global Action program into the agenda of the UN General Assembly by one or more friendly governments, as Costa Rica has done with the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention; mention of the Global Action program by influential media representatives; and positive public mention of Global Action by government leaders-for example, in annual speeches to the UN General Assembly.
Our mid-term goals include gaining wide governmental acceptance in different parts of the world of individual components of the Phase I Global Action program: for example, to strengthen the means of multilateral conflict prevention, resolution, and peacekeeping; to secure verified commitments from individual governments to freeze or reduce military spending, production, and trade; and to provide full transparency on conventional forces.
Goals that might be achieved in 10 years include establishing a working group at the Conference on Disarmament to discuss a possible Global Action Treaty or, alternatively, having several governments to convene a conference on the Global Action program. Other feasible 10-year goals include establishing and strengthening regional security organizations; regional discussion of a no-increase commitment for armed forces of that region; discussion of a worldwide no- increase commitment on armed forces, including arms sales and arms transfers (an important symbolic beginning for negotiated reductions); agreement on comprehensive exchange of information on armed forces; and a high-majority General Assembly vote for a resolution urging unconditional acceptance of outside observers to confirm compliance with human-rights conventions (or deliberate agreement on the part of the UN Security Council to play a systematic pro-active role in preventing internal conflict, and to set up the information gathering and staff assistance that decision would entail).
What is needed to launch the Global Action program is a massive global grassroots movement, which brings pressure to bear on governments, political leaders, and “opinion-shapers” in the media and other sectors to take the modest steps outlined in Phases I and II. This section describes how such a movement might be created, and the kinds of concrete activities individual and organizational participants might undertake.
Just as the environmental activists of the 1970s and 1980s succeeded in making environmental protection a near-universal goal, Global Action participants seek to make war-prevention measures non- partisan goals that are widely perceived as part of the general good. Today, thanks to the environmental movement, grade schools teach conservation. When Global Action to Prevent War has mobilized a global movement, grade schools will be able to teach peace-building skills and policies as an equally non-partisan, non-politicized matter.
A Multi-Issue Campaign with Shared Priorities
Global Action to Prevent War program offers more than catalog of actions to promote peace: its analysis clarifies the links between various steps to reduce the risk of war, such as reductions in standing armed forces and military spending and limits on arms production and trade. In addition, the Global Action program addresses intangible moral and political issues, such as the role of armed force in deterring and defending against aggression and genocide, and ways to build confidence in international peacekeeping capabilities.
Most important, the Global Action problem distinguishes between near-term and longer-term goals in these diverse yet linked aspects of efforts to prevent war. Without prescribing rigid coordination, its timeline takes into account the need for simultaneous progress toward a number of mutually-reinforcing goals, such as building confidence in international capabilities for keeping the peace, limiting national capabilities for cross-border attack, and strengthening national and international institutions for nonviolent conflict resolution.
As indicated earlier, the Global Action program is a “rolling plan.” It spells out concrete near-term goals for public education and political action, and describes in more general form the steps that will be needed further down the road to make war rare, brief, and small in scale. Then as the initial goals are achieved, the program will be revised and updated, providing more detail on subsequent steps, and taking into account unforeseen advances or setbacks in the first phase.
These features of the Global Action program foster independent yet mutually supportive efforts by participants in the Global Action International Network (GAIN).
Organizations can choose their issues
Within the broad framework of the Global Action program, organizations can usefully work toward specific short-term goals-or foster broad, long-term change toward a “culture of peace.” They can work against nuclear proliferation or against violence in children's TV programming, or for grade-school education on nonviolent conflict resolution or for prompt payment of UN dues-and still identify themselves as active and equal participants in the movement for Global Action to Prevent War.
What gives the Global Action program unity and focus-and what will give GAIN its global clout-is the shared timeline, the shared goals for near- and longer-term change, within the broad framework of a shared commitment to delegitimizing violence as a means of achieving various ends, while strengthening nonviolent efforts to meet basic human needs, and to provide political empowerment, personal dignity, and equal opportunity to every individual.
Because various regions have diverse security concerns, stemming from differences in history, size, culture, and resources, different aspects of the Global Action program will be most pertinent in different states. In some parts of Africa and Asia, stopping bloodshed will be the highest priority. In Latin America, there are urgent needs for greater openness of information on armed forces and military plans, and for steps to strengthen the security role of the Organization of American States. For conflict-prone countries in the Middle East, South Asia, and North-East Asia, the top priorities may be confidence-building measures, defensively-oriented cuts and restructuring in armed forces perceived as threatening by neighbors, and the establishment of universal-membership regional security organizations. In the United States, support must be developed for many near-term steps, including participation in the International Criminal Court, talks on global cuts in conventional forces, and the strengthening of peacekeeping and peace-enforcement under the UN Security Council and Secretary-General.
Major national and international organizations can support the shared priorities of Global Action to Prevent War by undertaking initiatives that are consistent with Phase I goals and urgently needed in certain regions. They can identify the Phase I goals that are supported by their constituencies, and help build bridges that will increase the influence and effectiveness of both. They can also reach out to new audiences to introduce them to aspects of the program that they will find compelling. Such initiatives can be identified as the Global Action initiatives even if they are not formally coordinated with the actions of others.
On certain issues, transnational mobilization may be most effective. For example, a global campaign supporting the development of rapid response brigades, building on current efforts by the government of Denmark, Norway, and Netherlands and other countries, would be extremely useful. On issues where the Global Action program calls for steps to be codified in international treaties, organizations might press their governments to show leadership by taking same steps unilaterally.
The Phase I goals of the Global Action to Prevent War-strengthening multilateral conflict-prevention, peacekeeping, and peace-enforcement capabilities, and negotiations on global conventional arms cuts, supported by full transparency and a freeze-or-reduce commitment-are sufficiently diverse so that in every part of the world, supportive governments and non-governmental organizations will find useful areas for public education and national political debate.
The news and information links of the Global Action International Network, in print and on the Web, will give a sense of common purpose to these diverse efforts to prevent war and genocide.
Global Action International Network
The core program statement of Global Action to Prevent War is constantly undergoing revision, update, and improvement. Organizations and individuals reading the statement for the first time are invited to send comments and suggestions to the Coordinating Committee. Revised drafts, published every 3-6 months, take into account suggestions from supporters and changes in the world. This keeps the program statement up-to-date, relevant, and open to input from members of an ever-expanding coalition. Until all phases of the Global Action program have been implemented, Global Action will be “a coalition-building network-in-formation,” inviting the active participation of old and new supporters-and gradually evolving from a campaign to a global movement.
The basic structure for creating a global movement is provided by the Global Action International Network, a worldwide association of groups and individuals who support Global Action to Prevent War.
GAIN offers a capacious umbrella for coalition-building. It allows individual and organizational members of the Network to work for diverse goals while identifying themselves as part of a much larger global movement.
GAIN welcomes organizations that relate to the Global Action program in different ways:
1. Like efforts by groups such as the Hague Appeal for Peace, Earth Action, or the European Conflict Platform, which have multi-issue campaigns to prevent war.
2. Allied efforts by groups such as Abolition 2000 (advocating government commitment to talks on abolishing nuclear weapons by the year 2000) or the campaigns against land mines or small arms.
3. Component efforts by groups working for intermediate goals included in the Global Action platform, such as cuts in military forces and spending, limits on arms trade, education and training in nonviolent conflict resolution, or increased use of international courts.
4. Related efforts in fields which would benefit from the success of Global Action to Prevent War, such as humanitarian aid, refugee relief, third world development, human rights, the environment, economic justice, groups concerned with women's issues and with preventing domestic and youth violence, and businesses seeking stable markets and currencies for international finance and trade.
Participants in GAIN are urged to identify themselves as GAIN “Members” (for like, allied, and component efforts) or “Affiliates” (for related efforts) on their letterhead or Web site, or in their literature by adding the phrase, “Member of GAIN, the Global Action International Network,” or “Affiliate of GAIN, the Global Action International Network.” This can have an enormous impact on the progress of Global Action to Prevent War. It instantly brings brand-name recognition to the campaign, and it quickly signals the strength in the numbers of organizations that support Global Action goals.
At the same time, Global Action “brand-name” recognition has the potential to bring greater public, political, and financial support to participating organizations, without any significant investment of money or time, because members of the public understand that when coordinated, various campaigns have a much greater chance of success. Individually, these campaigns are likely to be too narrowly based to carry the day; but when taken together, their tremendous potential for change become self-evident.
Groups and individuals can choose their own degree of involvement in GAIN. “Mailing list only” indicates an interest in being informed about Global Action. Members and Affiliates, who support the general thrust of the Global Action program, can participate in GAIN Councils and use the public areas of the GAIN web site. Greater degrees of participation can involve education or lobbying on components of the Global Action program or the program as whole, input into the evolving program, or becoming a Network node for Global Action activity and support.
1 Major weapon systems comprise combat aircraft and armed helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, heavy artillery and missiles, and naval ships over 1,000 tons.
2 There are about 20 military "middle powers" which would cut by 25 percent: Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Poland, and Ukraine in Europe; Japan, India, Pakistan, North and South Korea, and Taiwan in Asia; and Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and Syria in the Middle East. All other countries (about 170), which have very small armed forces, would cut by 15 percent.
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February 01, 1999
34 Min read time